The practical driving test for buses and lorries
If you want to drive a lorry or bus, you need to take a theory and practical driving test. The driving tests assess the skills you need to be a vocational driver. To get vocational licence entitlement you should be experienced and technically expert which the assessment criteria reflects.
What the practical test includes
At the beginning of the test, you will be asked five vehicle safety questions.
For more information, see the vehicle safety questions section below.
You will also be examined on your general driving and on set exercises.
The set exercises will include:
- an S shaped reverse into a bay
- a braking exercise (on road)
- the uncoupling and re-coupling procedure - you must carry this out if you're taking a test with a trailer
The drive on the road lasts about 60 minutes and the overall test takes about 90 minutes.
Taking the test in a manual vehicle
If you take your test in a manual vehicle, you will not be asked to carry out a specific gear-change exercise during the general driving element of your test. Instead, you will be assessed throughout the test on your ability to choose the appropriate gear as part of general driving.
Practical tests are digital
Driving examiners use digital tablets to carry out category C, C1, and C+E practical driving tests. They use the tablets during the driving test to input the assessment information.
Vehicle safety questions
These are basic safety checks that a driver should carry out to make sure the vehicle is safe for use. Although some checks may involve opening the engine compartment to identify where fluid levels would be checked, you will not be asked to touch a hot engine or physically check fluid levels.
As vehicle technology advances, more and more vehicles are being equipped with electronic diagnostic systems that tell the driver the engine fluid levels and tyre pressures.
It will be acceptable for you to refer to the vehicle information system (if fitted) when answering questions on fluid levels or tyre pressures - as long as the information given by the system is adequate.
List of safety questions you may be asked
You will be asked five questions which will be a mix of show me and tell me.
A driving fault will be recorded for each incorrect answer to a maximum of four driving faults. If you answer all five questions incorrectly, a serious fault will be recorded.
For a list of the safety questions you could be asked in your driving test, follow the links below:
- Vehicle safety questions for buses and lorries
- Vehicle safety questions for buses and lorries with trailers
During the practical test
During the driving test the examiner will give you directions which you should follow. Test routes are designed to be as uniform as possible and will include a range of typical road and traffic conditions.
Throughout the test you should drive in the way your instructor has taught you. If you make a mistake, don't worry about it, it might be a less serious fault and may not affect your result.
The examiner will be looking for an overall safe standard of driving. You can make up to 15 driving faults and still pass the test (16 or more driving faults will mean a failure). However, if you commit one serious or dangerous fault you will fail the test.
If at any time your examiner considers you to be a danger to other road users, your test will be stopped.
You are allowed to take someone with you on the test, this person must be over 16 years old and they can't take any part in the test.
- A guide to booking your practical driving test
- Reporting for your practical test
- Minimum vehicle standards for buses/ lorries and related trailer tests
After the practical test
When the driving test is over, the examiner will tell you whether you passed or failed. You can ask for feedback on your test from the examiner, who will then go through your performance during the test.
Your instructor or passenger is welcome to listen to this feedback if you wish.
You will have the test results emailed to the address you gave when you booked your test.
If you pass the practical test
Your licence will be issued automatically to the address you gave when you booked your test.
If you fail the practical test
If you fail the test, you should ask the examiner for some feedback to help prepare yourself for your next test. Your driving test report form will also show you where you made any mistakes.
Driving test standards
All examiners are trained to carry out the test to the same standard. They do not have pass or fail quotas. As long as you achieve the standard needed you will pass your driving test.
Weather conditions/ mechanical problems and driving tests
DVA doesn't conduct tests in bad light or in adverse weather conditions for everyone's safety. Another appointment will be arranged at no further cost, however, compensation is not payable.
If there are adverse weather conditions on the day of your test, you should call the telephone number on the appointment letter to check whether your test will go ahead.
If the driving test is not carried out for reasons to do with you or your vehicle, you will have to take another test at your own cost.