Carrying out driving tests: examiner guidance

6. Particular types of vehicle and adaptations

Guidance for driving examiners on particular types of vehicle and adaptations.

6.01: Category B1 & Motor tricycles

Category B1 vehicles and motor tricycles are normally not suitable for test except in the case of a motor tricycle if the candidate has a notifiable disability.

6.02: Invalid carriages

This test will be conducted from any DTC on the lines of a Home Test - that is with the examiner on foot similar to a Category F test. The candidate will be directed round a route consisting of blocks and the test will include an Emergency Stop - Angle Start - Hill Start if possible and normal driving. (Note: there is no fee for this test).

For driver licensing and testing purposes an invalid carriage is defined as a mechanically propelled vehicle with an un-laden weight not exceeding 10 cwt, specially designed and constructed, and not merely adapted, for the use of a person suffering from some physical defect or disability, and used solely by such a person.

These vehicles are exempt from excise duty, but should display a valid `exempt from taxation’ vehicle excise licence.

Drivers of these vehicles normally signal with direction indicators, and should not be asked to demonstrate arm signals during the test.

A candidate who passes the test in an invalid carriage should be given a DVSA10 for category B1, and the D255 should indicate that the candidate should be restricted to invalid carriages only.

6.03: Modified/unusual machines

If a candidate attends for test on an unusual motorcycle (ie a grey import) or they claim the motorcycle has been modified, the DVSA list of motorcycles suitable for test should be referred to. If the motorcycle is not listed examiners will usually be able to decide either from their own knowledge or any documentary evidence produced which category the motorcycle falls into. In cases where the category cannot be decided then advice should be sought from the HEO, SEO or the Technical Support Team. In all cases the category of the motorcycle must be decided prior to the start of the ride and the candidate should be informed of the decision.

Any modifications should be entered on the DL25.

The DVSA list of motorcycles suitable for test can be found in the DT1 document library and it is also published on

6.04: Category AM - mopeds (Including electric mopeds)


For a machine used before 1 August 1977, `moped’ means a motorcycle with an engine not exceeding 50 cc and equipped with pedals by means of which it can be propelled. A machine that fits the above definition except that a pedal or pedals have been removed and foot rests fitted, or permanently fixed so that they can no longer be used as a means of propulsion, falls within category AM.

For a machine first used on or after 1 August 1977, `moped’ means a motor cycle with a maximum design speed not exceeding 30 mph, a kerbside weight not exceeding 250 kg and, if propelled by an internal combustion engine, an engine not exceeding 50 cc.

All motor cycles with engines up to and including 125 cc, first used on or after 1 August 1977, should carry a small plate showing the machine as being either a standard motor cycle' (category A) or a moped’ (category AM).

Usually the date of a machine’s first registration counts as the date when it was first used. If a machine has a registration suffix letter ‘S’ or later, and carries a plate, that should normally be used to determine which category the machine falls into.

A machine with a registration suffix letter earlier than `S’ which does not exceed 50 cc and has usable pedals should be regarded as a moped; unless it is clearly a later machine carrying a ‘cherished’ number plate.

6.05: Procedure

Tests of candidates on mopeds should follow the procedure for the conduct of the motorcycle test.

6.06: Left-hand drive vehicles

Examiners should bear in mind that a candidate driving a left-hand drive vehicle should exercise special care, and make full use of the mirrors when about to overtake other vehicles or change direction to the right.

6.07: Electrically assisted pedal cycles

Certain machines with the characteristics of conventional pedal cycles, but with a small measure of assistance from an electric motor, are excluded from the motor vehicle category in the Road Traffic Act. Riders of these cycles are therefore not subject to the driver licensing and testing regulations and, if candidates present themselves for test with one, they should be advised accordingly.

The machines are:

Bicycles with a kerbside weight not exceeding 40kg and an electric motor with a continuous rated output not exceeding 0.2 kilowatts; or Tandem bicycles and tricycles with a kerbside weight not exceeding 60kg and an electric motor with a continuous rated output not exceeding 0.25 kilowatts The machines are required to be fitted with pedals by means of which they can be propelled, an electric motor which cannot propel the vehicle when it is travelling at more than 15 mph, and a plate showing the manufacturer’s name and the continuous rated output of the electric motor.

6.08: Vehicles with automatic transmission

A vehicle with automatic transmission is defined in regulations as `A vehicle in which the gear ratio between the engine and the wheels can be varied only by the use of the accelerator or brakes’. In general a vehicle without a manual clutch is regarded as an automatic.

The following points of driving technique are common to all automatic systems:


The handbrake should be applied for temporary stops, eg waiting at a red traffic light, a junction, or in a traffic hold-up, if they are likely to be of a long duration Short stops may not require the application of the handbrake The handbrake may need to be applied to prevent `creep’ Faults committed in these cases should be recorded at Handbrake

Footbrake and accelerator

The use of the right foot for both brake and accelerator pedals has considerable safety advantages. It is therefore recommended practice for normal driving, but is not necessarily applicable to disabled drivers. The use of the left foot on the brake pedal should not however be marked as a fault unless it involves the use of the footbrake against the accelerator.

The use of both feet when manoeuvring in a confined space is acceptable if carried out correctly, ie speed is properly adjusted so that no large throttle opening or heavy braking pressures are involved.

Any fault should be recorded at footbrake and/or accelerator, or in the ‘control’ box if it occurs in the reversing, reverse parking, or turn in the road exercise.

6.09: Particular driving systems

Fully automatic system

This type has selector settings for forward and reverse, neutral and/or park. It also has settings which enable the driver to select and retain a particular gear ratio or range of gear ratios, e.g. to obtain engine braking when descending a steep hill, although gear changes are normally made automatically. Most automatics of this type enable the driver to make an immediate change into the lower gear, to obtain extra acceleration, by means of `kick down’ or part throttle operation actuated by the accelerator pedal. In nearly all cases the selector lever is mounted on the floor or the steering column in the position normally occupied by the gear lever, but there are exceptions, e.g. a panel of press buttons on the facia.

Semi-automatic systems

With these the driver has to select the gear required by movement of the gear lever as with a manually controlled gearbox, but there is no clutch pedal. For driving test and licensing purposes these vehicles are regarded as automatics.

Pre-selector systems

In these the gear is selected, before it is required, by manual movement of a selector lever, which is normally mounted on the steering column. When required, the gear is engaged by a single depression and release of the gear-change pedal, which is situated where the clutch pedal would be on an orthodox transmission.

6.10: The clutch and guidosimplex

These adaptations enable a vehicle to be driven in manual or automatic mode. The candidate can choose which mode to drive the vehicle in and if successful should be issued with the appropriate DVSA10.

Disabled candidates may use the vehicle for a test in automatic mode as a means of overcoming their disability. If successful, the candidate should be issued with a restricted licence in the usual way.

6.11: Centrifugal clutches and free-wheel devices

Vehicles fitted with these devices do not fall within the definition of vehicles with automatic transmission. The use of a free-wheel device or centrifugal clutch in addition to a pedal-operated clutch is at the discretion of the candidate.

6.12 Hill assist

Many new vehicles are being fitted with a ‘hill assist’ device as standard. This system allows a driver, when moving off on an uphill or downhill gradient, a couple of seconds to move their foot from the footbrake to the accelerator before the device releases the footbrake automatically. If this device is fitted drivers still have to co-ordinate the controls and take the correct observation when moving off; consequently vehicles fitted with such a device are suitable for the practical driving test.

6.13: Citroen XM parking brake

Citroen XMs are fitted with an emergency and parking brake. This brake is operated by the driver pushing in a control fitted under the offside face vent and depressing an additional foot pedal situated to the left of the clutch pedal on the manual model and to the left of the brake pedal on the automatic version. The parking brake is released by pulling out the control fitted on the dash.

The emergency brake can be operated by applying the additional pedal, which will operate the brakes without power assistance. Drivers are advised not to drive with the release control pushed in when driving normally.

6.14: Bicycles with ancillary motors

The DELTA DART and similar engines can be attached to a pedal cycle to convert it into a moped. When such machines are presented for a category AM driving test they must display a number plate, road fund licence and the rider is required to wear a standard motorcycle helmet. Ordinary cycle helmets are not acceptable.

6.15: Electronically operated parking brake (handbrake)

Vehicles fitted with an electronically operated parking brake are suitable for use during a practical driving test. There are usually two ways of releasing an electronically operated parking brake: by depressing the footbrake whilst releasing the parking brake, then coordinating the accelerator and clutch to move away, or coordinating the accelerator and clutch and when the electronics sense the clutch is at biting point the parking brake releases automatically. The parking brake will not usually release automatically if the accelerator is not used or the controls are not coordinated correctly - providing there is no loss of control either method is acceptable.

If an examiner needs to take action to stop the vehicle if the electrically operated parking brake is applied and held on when the vehicle is in motion it will bring the vehicle to a controlled stop.

6.16: Suitability of vehicles for category ‘b’ tests

The vast majority of hatchbacks, saloons and estate cars are suitable for test, but increasingly the designers of cars are producing models with sweeping lines which have good forward vision but have large blind spots to the rear and present examiners with problems of observation.

Panel vans also present problems with vision and are often unsuitable for test. Vehicles supplied by motor manufacturers have obviously been through the type approval process, but this approval concentrates on vehicles from a driver’s point of view and such a process does not necessarily make the vehicle suitable for the purposes of the test.

Vehicles for test must allow examiners all round vision to allow them to see approaching vehicles, particularly when the car is at an angle to other vehicles during reversing manoeuvres and also when emerging at a junction with the vehicle at an angle to the major road.

6.17: Vehicle self-parking feature

Car manufacturers are now producing vehicles with ‘self-parking’ features, which when activated automatically steer the vehicle into a parking bay or space by the kerb.

This technology is becoming more common and it is likely that some of these vehicles will eventually be presented for test.

If any vehicle fitted with a ‘self-parking’ feature is presented for test the test should be conducted in the normal way, however, vehicles fitted with these electronic devices must be capable of being switched off/de-activated when carrying out manoeuvres. Candidates must complete their manoeuvres manually. Vehicles with parking distance sensors are acceptable as this is merely a safety feature.