A driving test (also known as a driving exam, driver's test, or road test) is a procedure designed to test a person's ability to drive a motor vehicle. It exists in various forms worldwide, and is often a requirement to obtain a driver's license. A driving test generally consists of one or two parts: the practical test, called a road test, used to assess a person's driving ability under normal operating conditions, and/or a written or oral test (theory test) to confirm a person's knowledge of driving and relevant rules and laws.
The world's first mandatory national driving test was introduced in France in 1899.
To make the test fair, written driving tests are normally standardized tests, meaning that everyone takes the same test under the same conditions. In many places the test can be done by computer, and typically consists of questions related to road signs and traffic laws of the respective country, but may also include questions related to road safety best practices or technical questions regarding vehicle operation and maintenance. In many countries, passing a written driving test is required to be allowed to sit the practical test.
Depending on the country and on the driver's license category, the practical test includes driving on the public, open road as well as different maneuverability test, which are usually carried out in a controlled environment such as:
- driving back and forth through a set of traffic cones
- reversing around a corner or into a parking space, with or without a trailer or semi-trailer
- emergency stops or evasive maneuvers
- coupling and de-coupling of a trailer to a truck, which includes establishing the electrical and compressed-air connections and checking them
- maintaining a motorcycle stable at low speed
In most European Union member countries, the road test may be taken on either a manual or an automatic vehicle, however, when using an automatic vehicle, the driver's license will be restricted to such vehicles.
Dependent on the country, other tests may be required, such as an eyesight test or a reaction test. These may be part of the theory test or the practical test or may be separate tests, in which case they are usually a prerequisite for admission to the practical test. The United Kingdom and some other countries use a Hazard Perception Test as part of the theory test, in which candidates are shown multiple short video clips of driving scenarios and must respond to any emerging hazards.
In the United States, most Department of Motor Vehicles offices do not provide vehicles for the road test and so the person taking the test must provide their own vehicle. This is useful because the vehicle they use for the test is typically the same vehicle they have used to practice driving. Before they can use the vehicle for the test, they must show proof of liability insurance to the DMV for the particular vehicle to avoid liability from a collision that could occur during the test.