What do I need to know about the practical driving test for buses and lorries?

What do I need to know about the practical driving test for buses and lorries?

If you want to drive a lorry or a bus you will need to take a theory and practical driving test. The driving tests are designed to test the skills you will need to be a vocational driver. The practical test involves vehicle safety questions, a test of driving ability and a test of specific manoeuvres.

What will the test include?

At the beginning of the test you will be asked five vehicle safety questions which will be a combination of “show me” and “tell me”. For more information about the vehicle safety questions, please see the section below.

You will 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
  • demonstrating the uncoupling and re-coupling procedure if you’re taking a test with a trailer

The drive on the road last about 60 minutes and the overall test takes about 90 minutes.

Vehicle safety questions for lorries and buses

These are basic safety checks that a driver should carry out to ensure the vehicle is safe for use. Although some checks may involve the candidate in opening the bonnet to identify where fluid levels would be checked, pupils 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, which inform the driver of the state of the engine fluid levels and tyre pressures. It will be acceptable for a candidate to refer to the vehicle information system (if fitted) when answering questions on fluid levels or tyre pressures.

Lorry and passenger carrying vehicles (PCV) (categories C & C1, D & D1)

Drivers seeking vocational licence entitlement should be experienced and technically expert, the assessment criteria reflects this.

Candidates will be asked five questions which will be a combination of show me and tell me. A driving fault will be recorded for each incorrect answer to a maximum of four driving faults. If the candidate answers 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, click on the vehicle safety questions link below.

  • Download ‘vehicle safety questions for buses and lorries’ (PDF, 16K)
  • Download ‘vehicle safety questions for buses and lorries with trailers’ (PDF, 12K)
  • Help with PDF files

What happens during the 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 driving 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 results in 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 cannot take any part in the test.

  • How to book a practical driving test
  • Reporting for your practical test
  • Special needs and the practical driving test
  • Minimum test vehicle requirements for buses and lorries

After the practical test

When the driving test is over, the examiner will tell you whether you passed or failed. You can request feedback on your test from the examiner, who will then go through your performance during the test.

If you pass…

If you pass and have a photocard driving licence issued after 1 March 2004 the examiner will ask you if you want your full driving licence issued to you automatically.

If you want to use this service, the examiner will take your old licence off you, scan the details and send them electronically to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA). You will then be given a pass certificate to prove you passed your test. DVLA will then send you your new full licence by post within three weeks of you passing your practical test.

If you pass your test but do not want to use this automatic service, or have a licence issued before 1 March 2004, you will be given a pass certificate by the examiner. On the back of the pass certificate it tells you what you need to do next. This involves sending your licence and appropriate fee to DVLA who will then check your application and issue you with a new full licence.

If you fail…

If you fail the test you should ask the examiner for some feedback to help prepare yourself for your next test. Your driving report form will also show you where you made any mistakes. You can take another practical test three working days after your bus or lorry test.

Driving test standards

All examiners are trained to carry out the test to the same standard, they do not have pass or fail quotas. So as long as you demonstrate the standard required you will pass your driving test.

Weather conditions/ mechanical problems etc

DSA do not conduct tests in bad light or in adverse weather conditions for the safety of the candidate and the examiner. We will arrange another appointment at no further cost, but compensation is not payable. Candidates should call the telephone number quoted on the appointment letter to check whether their test will go ahead.

If the driving test is not completed for reasons attributable to you or your vehicle, you will have to take another test at your own cost.

More useful links

  • Driving test fees
  • Driving a minibus
  • Driving passenger carrying vehicles (PCV) on a car driving licence
  • Vehicles you can drive and how old you must be to drive them
  • Your driving conduct for larger vehicles, minibuses or buses

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