Driving instructors and exam proctors have intense jobs. Every single day, multiple times a day, they get into cars with the most inexperienced drivers in the world. Everyday they have their lives in the hands of some really terrible drivers. These stories, about some of the worst tests that can be imagined are crazy. Content is edited for clarity.
"I was an examiner for about a year. The worst mistake I ever encountered was a woman making a right hand turn at a red light directly into oncoming traffic. She finally noticed she was about kill both of us, so she decided to slam on her brakes in traffic as cars swerved to not hit the car. In the meantime, I’m yelling, 'go!' and pointing for her to continue driving.
I had her pull over to the side of the road and I drove her car back to the testing site. I jumped out of the car and handed her a list of local driving schools. I told her to not come back until she knew how to drive because she was a hazard to herself and everyone else on the road. I only lasted a few more months than that. My life is worth more than $15 an hour.
Side note: In some states, new drivers over 18 only need to pass the written and road test. They don’t need proof of hours behind the wheel like minors. The over 18 testers were the worst drivers hands down.
I rather be in a car with a minor who’s gone through drivers ed any day."
"As I was waiting to take my exam my driving instructor told me this story.
A while back he had a student who he was waiting with in the car to take her exam. The examiner finally steps in to start the exam. He then asks her, 'What’s the first thing anyone should do once entering a car?' She then proceeds to start the car without his instruction and without answering his question. He then asks her several more times while even giving a proper motion on what she should do first. She was completely lost.
She failed her test before she even started because she forgot to put her seatbelt on."
"A good friend of mine worked for the DMV for 20 years and regularly did tests.
He had one lady who was doing bad and had already failed, but she wasn't getting anyone killed, so he was gonna let her finish the course. There was a big hill with a busy railroad track at the top and then beyond that was an intersection.
He told the lady to take the next right and what did the lady do? She turned right onto the busy railroad tracks. He told her, 'Get out of the car NOW' and jumped across the car to back it off of the tracks. A train passed about a minute later.
Another messed up one was a girl was starting to panic because she was not doing very well and she knew it. She started swerving and then over-corrected and drove off the road into a construction site. A shovel from a backhoe went through the windshield and pinned my friend to the seat.
He ended up with brain trauma and permanent brain damage and spent a few months in the hospital. He also had PTSD for a decade afterwards and needed therapy. That accident was the reason he ended up retiring. He hasn't driven in 20 years now. He just got his license after not renewing it for that long and is planning on starting again soon."
"My tester told me something I’ll never forget.
He was driving with a girl and testing her. Here in Arizona (and probably everywhere in the US), the examiner is not allowed to say anything that isn’t a direction (i.e. 'turn left'). Of course, this doesn’t work if the driver is an idiot.
During the test, she pulls up to a stop sign. She’s the first one there, but another car pulls up to the left. She waves them on. Not entirely wrong, but she should’ve gone first. Not a huge deal. Then it happens again. Mind you, she hasn’t moved through the intersection. Rather, another car has approached, stopped, and been waved on. There are now one or two cars behind her.
Eventually, there’s a large backup of honking traffic and a small trickle of cars crossing through the intersection in front of her. She finally turns to the instructor and says, 'Why are they all mad at me? I have a red light!'
And that’s the story of how a small point deduction failed someone’s driving test."
"I've been doing driving exams for 20 years now and I've had countless near missed, and a good number of collisions on the job.
I had a senior citizen turn into oncoming traffic on the highway, straight through his turn lane, that was fun. When you tell someone they just went through a stop sign, and they let go of the wheel and cover their eyes, at 40mph, in traffic - also memorable. I had a kid try very hard to fight me, plus and so many other fun stories.
One of my funnier memories was heading out in the parking lot with a young man, he points out his truck, and as we get to it I realize there are some hooves sticking out from under a tarp, so I run through the rulebook in my head, and I decide we can do a road test with a deer carcass in the box. As I decide, he realizes I've been looking at the deer's feet and says 'Yeah man, that's the last examiner that had the balls to fail me.'
THAT may have been the biggest mistake an examinee has made on a test with me."
"I was the test taker, rather than the examiner, but I imagine this made the guy's top 3 list.
I drove to the DMV and parked really well, even though the lot was really sloped which made it tricky. Score!
My examiner checked the car and got in and asked me to operate the lights and wiper blades. I did so. Knocked it out of the park!
The examiner asked me to reverse out of the space and merge onto the road to begin the test. I take the parking break off, put the car in reverse, slowly back out with my foot on the brake because of the slope. I notice the wheel feels super weird, and it's really hard to turn. I put my muscles into it as adrenaline takes over. Finally out of the spot, I put the car in drive and press the gas. No gas. I try again. No gas.
I forgot to turn the engine on.
I am the only person I know who tried to take a driving test with the car off. I didn't pass. Some days I'm surprised I can tie my own shoelaces."
"It was not me, but my mom.
On the way to her first test to get her license, she was driving behind a car going under the speed limit. My mom, having been so excited for her test, or just being impatient, decided to pass the car while simultaneously flipping the driver off.
At the DMV, she was feeling all high and mighty to take the test and get her license, until she is greeted by her driving instructor. The same man she happened to flip the bird to on the way there. Oops.
Needless to say she didn't pass."
"I had the privilege of taking my sister to her driving test for her license. We had one car for us kids, and I was driving it, so it fell on me to do this task that nobody wanted to do, because nobody was very confident in her chances.
Early on, it was obvious to everyone that she was firmly on the left side of the bell curve, if you know what I mean...
So my girlfriend (at the time) and I drove my sister to the DMV, trying to give her some last-minute pointers along the way. Being her normal, whiney 16-year-old self (she would happily corroborate that assessment now, 17 years later), she basically told us to shut up and that she didn't need any help, and for us to start getting used to the idea of having the car much less often now. Great stuff!
Anyway, as it turned out, we may have forgotten a couple of pretty important last-minute tips.
We waited at the DMV for what seems like hours with an anxious, moody 16-year-old, and finally it was her turn! She was visibly overcome with excitement, but sweetly stopped in her frenzy to give me a big hug and kiss, thanking me for bringing her.
So she went and met her instructor, and my girlfriend and I saw them off to the reliable old Buick Skylark station wagon, which had gotten me through this same anxious moment only two years earlier. Godspeed, sister!
We watched them get in the car from the perspective of in front of the car, so we could see their faces when they were sitting in their seats. The instructor started talking to my sister, who should have been putting on her seatbelt, checking her mirrors. Instead, in the middle of the woman's sentence, my sister immediately starts the car, throws it in reverse, and backs out of the spot! The instructor was visibly startled by the abruptness of the move. In THIS position, out of the parking spot and now perpendicular to it, my sister patiently puts on her seatbelt and checks her mirrors, as the instructor regains her wits and continues talking.
So now they pull off, moving a bit herky-jerky to the stop sign at the end of the parking lot, and my sister promptly run the stop sign and jets out into traffic! She barely slowed down as she took the right.
Now they are gone, and my girlfriend and I look at each other knowing it's already over. We are still standing at the door laughing about how we couldn't believe what we just saw (as bad a driver as we all knew she was, nobody expected THAT) and joking about how the instructor was going to quit when they got back.
Just as we begin to go back inside, here comes the ol' Skylark, already tearing back into the parking lot! Please realize, this is IMMEDIATELY after they left- it couldn't have been more than a minute or two after they pulled onto the main road.
My sister whips the Skylark through the parking lot, screeching to a stop at a diagonal, 80% in one parking spot and 20% in another, right in front of the glass door where we are still standing. There is a look of seething anger on my sister's face as she slams it in park (it had the gearshift on the steering wheel, so this action was very demonstrative), shuts the car off, opens the door, and walks right past us into the building, leaving the instructor still buckled in the passenger seat.
What. The. Heck.
The instructor gathers herself and her paperwork, takes off her seat belt, and gets out of the car. She walks up to us, and completely no-sells whatever just happened. She just says, 'Unfortunately, your sister did not pass her driving test today. She can try again in six months,' and writes whatever that date was on the back of her permit with a black sharpie and initials it. She thanked us and went and got her next driving test.
As it turns out, not only did my sister act like a complete whack job in the parking lot and then run the stop sign to leave said parking lot, she also missed the part where the instructor told her to take a right at the first 4-way stop after leaving - that's what the instructor was starting to say when my sister began what looked like a kidnapping. So after she missed the turn and the instructor reminded her that she was supposed to turn right there, my sister apologized, and used the next 4-way stop TO DO A U-TURN AND GO BACK!
You know the move; the big, wide, circular U-turn. We've all done it, but this was her DRIVING TEST!
So after she pulled the fourth of four completely brainless moves within the first minute of her driving test, the instructor told her not to bother making the (now) left, and to just go back to the DMV because she was clearly nowhere near ready for her license.
Thankfully, she did much better six months later, and I was there for that one too."
"I was the new driver, not the instructor. At the time I had read about a new law where drivers could run a stop sign if the driver could see that the intersection was clear, this was considered a 'rolling stop.'
I went to my test. Of course, I rolled through a 4 way stop. The instructor freaked. 'That was a 4 way stop!!'
I responded, 'There's a new law to save gas you're allowed to roll through a stop if the intersection is clear! It was passed October. It was clear so I rolled through.'
Satisfied, the instructor scribbled something on his clipboard.
Went back to work. Told the guys about the dumb instructor that didn't know about the new rolling stop law.
'That's not a law! They proposed it in October (or whenever) and it got shot down! I can't believe he passed you!'"
"A co-worker of mine was an examiner, actually at the place I did my driving test! He told me about someone who went out on a test and had an accident that nearly killed them both at the first right turn after starting the test. There was a concrete light post on the opposite side of the road, and the car got slammed into it by an oncoming truck. The kid, obviously, failed, but the examiner was never really ok again, as they took the brunt of the impact with the pole.
Another person at the same spot was killed, in almost the exact same way, only minutes after passing her test. By the time I went through there to do my driving test, they had changed the route, so you would not turn right at that intersection."
"My dad is a driving instructor.
One time a candidate showed up wasted.
A candidate didn't know how to unlock the steering wheel.'
A candidate didn't buckle up.
The most controversial: A candidate failed the test because the examiner told her that she drove with the high-beam headlights on for the whole time, turns out that the car she was driving at the time didn't even have working high-beams."
"This happened to a friend of mine when he took his test:
Our state had a law that stated that if you were in a crash, whether you were or were not at fault, you automatically failed. He had a branch fall off of a tree onto the top of the car while they were stopped at a light. It cracked the windshield, making it 'undriveable.' Therefore he failed his first attempt.
Second attempt (mandatory 30 days later) - the testing facility was in a strip mall where the parking spots were on slight inclines down to the road. He passed his test, and was waiting for a parking spot in front of the testing facility. Someone else failed to put their parking brake on, and their car rolled down and hit my friends car. Automatic fail.
Attempt 3 (again mandatory 30 days later) - he finally passed."
"I'm not a driving test instructor, but this happened during my test!
I had just gotten a little Hyundai as my first car to take my test in, as my mom drove a massive SUV. We hadn't driven it much or anything, but we decided that it would suffice. We had to drive about 45 minutes to the testing facility as we lived out in the middle of no where.
So here I am, just 16, nervous, in this new car that we just got, and on roads I didn't recognize. My instructor had me drive on an old country road where the speed limit was 55mph, which was the fastest I'd ever driven! All was going well until I noticed smoke billowing out of driver wheel well. MY CAR WAS ON FIRE! Something had bounced up into my tires and burst into flames!
After the whole ordeal was over the instructor passed me, despite not completing the maneuverability part of the exam. The really cool thing was that the car was totaled due to the fire and I ended up getting another, way better, non-exploding vehicle!"
"This was in my second year of examining people. It was a slow day, not many people had booked in and I didn't have much to do. One or two people came in and I examined them, nothing unusual. And then it happened.
A kid from obviously a very rich family rocked up to the test for in a swanky Porsche. As I looked on, expecting to see his dad or mum or elder sibling get out of the driver seat, imagine my surprise when he himself stylishly pulls out of the driver seat wearing Oakley sunglasses and a Gucci watch. When he walked in I asked him how he drive here and his reaction was priceless.
He told me that it was in fact his 'older twin' who drove him there.
I mean seriously??"
"I was giving this kid his driving test for the second time and we are driving down a four-lane highway. Now, it's my job to make sure he knows how to safely and properly change lanes. When I looked, this kid had plenty of space. I tell him to change lanes. He swerves over without barely a glance and by this point, a car had come flying up out of nowhere. Well, he changes lanes and the car apparently swerves to avoid him.
The next thing I see is a car flying through the air across four lanes and landing in someone's yard from behind us. The kid taking the test panicked, and I kind of freaked out too. The driver of the wrecked car was ok and the person whose yard it was freaked out of course, but was ok too. By some miracle that car managed to not hit another car.
Needless to say, the kid didn't pass. Again. I think he took the test two more times before he finally passed.
It really scared the crap of me."
"I'm a police officer and I was involved in an investigation of a motor vehicle collision that went like this:
Student driver was returning from his road test.
He was instructed to pull into a parking spot at the rear of the examination centre. As he pulled in he went to far and struck a wooden sign post. The examiner went to get out to inspect the damage to the vehicle and as he was getting out the driver panicked and put the vehicle in reverse and stepped on the accelerator hard throwing the instructor from the car. The car did this large arcing turn as it reversed and hit this poor unsuspecting pedestrian and dragged him several feet before the rear of the vehicle struck another car and stopped. The pedestrian had his head trapped underneath the car.
The fire department came and extracted the pedestrian from under the car. By some stroke of luck everyone involved only suffered minor injuries.
This was the guys SIXTH attempt at getting his license!"
"I always feel bad when I fail people on the course where they do parallel parking, before even going on the road. It's maybe happened twice since I started this job a few months ago.
But some of these kids either didn't have near enough instruction before taking the exam or unfortunately let their nerves get the best of them. One girl backed into the curb so fast (not once, but TWICE) on the parking exercises that I hit my head on the roof of the car. It's so hard to be calm after really bad mistakes like that!"
"My drivers ed teacher told us about a girl she was supervising during in-car exam that my teacher had to fail.
They were going down a hill and the teacher was saying that when she reached the bottom of the hill, start giving it some gas to make up the other side. The girl gave it WAY too much gas. She panicked and in the confusion, she just put her foot down, hard, thinking it was on the brake but she just kept accelerating.
They veered off the road and crashed into a Wendy's sign. The instructor had slammed on her emergency brake so hard that the cable snapped. This seems like a really common panic reaction that people have and they just commit to one pedal.
That's why there are a bunch of cctv videos of people driving through convenience stores."
"I have two stories:
First is a girl was taking her test, and during her test she needed to get into the right most lane to make a turn. There was a police officer already in the lane, and instead of slowing down and getting behind the officer, she sped up and cut the cop off, nearly hitting the cop. Of course, she got pulled over and got a warning. Then when she finished and got back to the office, she asked my co-worker if she had passed. Uh. No.
Second, I had a customer knock out her entire test with perfect scores, the only thing she had to do was park the car to pass. She mashed the gas in the parking lot and crashed the car into a ditch. Instant fail.
Just for fun, we also have a lot of international customers who fail because their friends sign them up for the test, but the driver does not understand English."
"I was taking my test and it all was going great. Coming up to an intersection, I wait for instructor to tell me which way to turn. He doesn't say a word so I drive straight through. He then says oh I was supposed to tell you to go left at that intersection. He then says no matter, turn left at this next street. I ask him you sure? It's a one-way street. He says yes, turn left. I say again, you sure? He says yes, left. So I turn left.
People are waving at me, yelling at me, and the instructor says 'I wonder why they are yelling?' as he looks around.
I tell him, 'I told you it's a one way street!'
He immediately tells me to turn around using someone's driveway. I do and we get back on track and finish the course. He tells me I pass and am a great driver. I think to myself, as if he could fail me, even if he wanted to.
I wonder if I should tell someone what happened but figured forget it, I took my license and got out there as fast as I could!"