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Can driving examiners talk to you?

Taking your driving test can be a nerve-wracking experience. As you get behind the wheel with the examiner in the passenger seat, one question that often comes up is: can the examiner talk to you during the test? Understanding the rules around examiner communication can help you know what to expect on test day.

The short answer

Yes, driving examiners are allowed to talk to you during the test. However, there are limits on what they can discuss. The examiner cannot provide coaching or advice, but may give instructions, ask questions, point out errors, and make general conversation.

Purposes of examiner communication

There are a few reasons an examiner may need or choose to speak to you during the test:

  • Give instructions for where to drive next
  • Point out traffic signs and signals
  • Ask clarifying questions about your actions
  • Indicate errors you have made
  • Make general conversation to assess your ability to multi-task

Knowing the intent behind the examiner’s comments can prevent you from getting flustered or distracted if they start speaking during the test.

What examiners can and cannot discuss

While examiners are permitted to talk to you, there are limits on what they are allowed to say. Here are some key rules about what driving examiners can and cannot do:

They can:

  • Give instructions (e.g. “At the next light, make a left turn”)
  • Point out signs and hazards (e.g. “Watch the speed limit sign here”
  • Ask clarifying questions (e.g. “Can you explain why you chose to turn there?”)
  • Indicate mistakes (e.g. “That was an improper lane change”)
  • Make casual conversation to assess your ability to multi-task

They cannot:

  • Provide any coaching or advice that could help you pass
  • Give you hints about what to do next
  • Have long conversations that distract you from driving
  • Prompt you to take actions you fail to take
  • Ask trick questions designed to confuse you

In summary, the examiner is allowed to communicate basic instructions and point out issues, but cannot coach you or provide extensive assistance during the test.

When communication tends to occur

Examiners tend to speak up more at certain times during the test:

  • Start of the test – They may introduce themselves, verify your identity, and give instructions for where to go first.
  • Approaching intersections – They may remind you to scan carefully and yield properly.
  • When you make an error – If you do something incorrect or dangerous, the examiner will indicate the mistake.
  • During basic maneuvers – They may provide guidance before and during turns, stops, and back-ups.
  • General driving – They occasionally make casual conversation to assess your ability to multi-task.

Being especially alert and focused when approaching intersections, making turns, and performing maneuvers can help avoid actions that draw examiner comments.

How to respond when the examiner speaks

When the examiner does speak to you during the test, it’s important to respond appropriately:

  • Actively listen and avoid interrupting them.
  • Answer any questions fully and respectfully.
  • Acknowledge any mistakes pointed out.
  • Do not argue about any critiques or attempt to justify errors.
  • If you are unsure what the examiner wants you to do, ask clarifying questions.
  • Stay calm and focused on your driving.

Getting flustered or arguing rarely improves the situation. Also be sure to keep your eyes on the road when responding.

Staying focused when the examiner talks

One of the hardest parts of the driving test is remaining focused on safe driving even if the examiner starts speaking. Here are some tips for staying focused when they talk:

  • Expect it – Know that conversation may occur and prepare mentally.
  • Listen actively – Give them your full attention when they speak.
  • Breathe – Take a deep breath to stay calm if they surprise you with a comment.
  • Divide attention – Keep eyes on the road while listening and responding.
  • Get clarification – It’s ok to politely ask them to repeat if needed.

With practice, it is possible to have a conversation while still prioritizing safe driving.

Tips for minimizing examiner talking points

The best way to have the examiner talk to you less during the test is to make fewer mistakes. Here are some tips to minimize errors that could prompt the examiner to speak up:

  • Study the driver’s manual thoroughly so you know all the rules of the road.
  • Bring a checklist of common mistakes and review it before the test.
  • Practice regularly with an experienced driver to correct any bad habits.
  • Drive the test route in advance to familiarize yourself.
  • Aim to drive 5-10 mph under speed limits to avoid speed errors.
  • Scan carefully for pedestrians, signs, and hazards at all times.
  • Perform maneuvers slowly and methodically.

Driving carefully, conscientiously, and practicing extensively can help minimize faults that could prompt the examiner to speak up.

What to do if the examiner makes you nervous

Some people find driving examiners intimidating. If simply having them in the car makes you anxious and distracted:

  • Remember that they are there to evaluate driving skills, not make you nervous.
  • Take some deep breaths before the test to relax.
  • Use positive self-talk like “I’ve practiced and know what to do.”
  • Aim for a polite, professional interaction with the examiner.
  • If you feel overwhelmed, pull over briefly to re-focus before resuming.

While examiner nerves are normal, staying calm is key. Remember, they want you to pass if you demonstrate safe driving.

Preparing for examiner conversations

You can prepare for conversations with the examiner to avoid being caught off guard on the test:

  • Practice driving with a friend occasionally talking to you to get used to dividing your focus.
  • Recite instructions or directions out loud while driving during practice to prepare for responding.
  • Role play potential conversations with an instructor or friend.
  • Memorize key hand gestures like turns and stops so you rely less on verbal cues.

Simulating examiner conversations during your practice driving can help make test day interactions less jarring or distracting.

What to do after receiving feedback

If the examiner alerts you to a mistake during or after the test:

  • Stay calm – getting upset or arguing never improves the situation.
  • Acknowledge the mistake humbly without justifying your action.
  • Thank them for the feedback.
  • Learn from the mistake so you can correct it in the future.
  • If you fail, get clarification on all errors so you can practice them before retesting.

Try not to get discouraged by examiner critiques. Look at them as an opportunity to improve your skills.

Report inappropriate examiner conduct

While most examiners behave appropriately, if you encounter severe unprofessionalism like aggression, discrimination, or unsafe conduct:

  • Remain calm and focused on driving safely.
  • After the test, document the situation in writing with specific examples.
  • File a formal complaint with the driving test organization.
  • Consider contacting an attorney if you feel your rights were violated.
  • Ask to retest with a different examiner.

Serious examiner misconduct is rare, but should be addressed through proper channels.


Driving examiners are permitted to communicate instructions, point out errors, and make general conversation during the test. While this can be nerve-wracking for some drivers, staying calm and focused, listening attentively, and avoiding poor driving habits can help minimize concerning examiner feedback. Preparing for the possibility of conversations can help you take them in stride on test day. With practice and patience, you can become accustomed to occasional examiner communication during the driving test.

Scenario Appropriate Examiner Communication Inappropriate Examiner Communication
Approaching busy intersection “Be sure to come to a full stop and check for pedestrians here.” “I’ll tell you when it’s clear to go through.”
Forgetting to signal “Please remember to signal your turns.” “I’ll remind you to signal next time.”
Driving under speed limit “Watch your speed and stay within 5 mph of the limit.” “Speed up, you’re going too slowly right now.”
Asking for clarification “Take the next right turn please.” “I can’t answer that, just drive.”