Hazard Perception Tests

Currently In the UK, there is a two part test that new drivers must not fail in order to get their full driving license. The Hazard Perception Test is the second part that you must pass before getting your provisional driving licence. This test is made up of 2 parts. Part 1 is a multiple-choice questionnaire and the second part tests your ability to react to imminent dangers whilst driving in a stimulated environment. The test is taken within a computer simulated environment and tests your ability to spot and take appropriate actions to impending road dangers. This ability is partly learned from hours of driving and unfortunately by accidents or close calls. The smart approach is to get that experience online or running within a simulated environment similar to how pilots and many other operators of potentially dangerous  things.

What is a potential upcoming accident?

A developing hazard is simply a situation that might require a driver to alter their speed or direction, in order to avoid a potential upcoming accident. Developing hazards will change over time and often times start out as a non threatening situation, but given some time, can develop into a situation that will require the driver to take defensive action in order to avoid a collision. A potential upcoming accident can develop over the space of ten seconds or more and test requires that you take action within window time frame of 5 units and the quicker you press the mouse the higher your score. Continual clicking as a tactic to pass will not work as a software will recognize this approach and you will not pass.

Here’s an example that we all can relate to.

Whilst you are driving by a school you happen to notice an ice cream van parked nearby. Immediately you should become mindful of children that may be nearby who might run across the road to the van or possibly come out from behind the van. Whenever you are approaching a situation such as this you should always be extra vigilant and take your foot off the gas  and prepare to slow down to allow yourself more time to react to a possible pending accident.

A developing hazard will usually changes in a way that is predictable. Of course, there are some events that are unpredictable and the DVSA does not expect drivers to be able to predict every potential upcoming accident. The majority of hazards however are predictable and these are the ones that will occur and that you will be required to spot.  During the test you must be alert to any early warning signs that may need  action by you the driver to avoid a possible road  accident .

Whilst taking the test, you will be expected to indicate that you have spotted any early warning signs, which might require action, but you will not be expected to explain how you might have dealt with the developing hazard. You can indicate that you have spotted a developing hazard by clicking the mouse. You must remember that the position of the cursor is not important, as you only need to indicate you have spotted something that might develop into a potential upcoming accident, not where the potential upcoming accident actually is. The software is fairly basic and uses mouse click inputs to score your driving ability when faced with situations that can lead to accidents. I expect in the future it will be touch screen that will require the driver to actually indicate the location of the upcoming danger.

First introduced in late 2002, the hazard perception test’s goal is to assess the driver in the areas of scanning, anticipation, and potential upcoming accident recognition. It will measures a person’s ability to not only spot, but react to things that are happening either on the footpath or the road. It is very important that you are able to spot and react to the potential upcoming accidents before you are required to take emergency action in order to avoid them. Typically, experienced drivers will negate hazards by spotting and reacting to them as soon as possible, rather than just continue to head into a dangerous situation, which leaves them no option other than to aggressively brake or swerve.

How does the hazard perception test work?

Currently In order to complete this part of the theory test you will be have to view and respond to fourteen video clips. The clips are short normally a minute or under. While you are watching the clips, try to imagine that you are the driver, because this is the angle that you will be viewing from. Your test will be scored out of 75 points overall. The most points that you will be able to score by spotting a hazard are 5. There are thirteen video clips that have 1 potential upcoming accident in them and there is one clip that has 2 hazards in it. You will need 44 points to pass. Just like in the good old days of cinema, these clips will have no sound. Like most test practice makes perfect so spend time on one of the many web sites that provide these  types of driving clips and practice until you feel confident to take and pass the test.  

You will have to use your mouse to respond to the potential upcoming accidents. When you think you see a potential upcoming accident you respond by clicking the mouse. Either using the left or right button will do the trick. Basically, how quickly you are able to respond to each developing potential upcoming accident will determine your score for each clip. The faster that you respond the more points scored and as mentioned at the beginning clicking continually will not work as the program keeps a count of  these and if you hit or go over that figure the test is voided.

The first click will be recorded after the situation becomes a developing hazard and is the one that is used. It’s important to remember that the position of the cursor is not important, since you just need to indicate that you’ve spotted something that might develop into a potential upcoming accident, not where the potential upcoming accident actually is. In the near future expect touch screens which will require that you also indicate the location of the potential road accident.

Each of the video clips will begin with a frozen frame shot and a countdown timer that will start at 10. The clip begins when the timer reaches zero and you will then be required to respond to each one of the potential upcoming accidents you will see in the clip.

In order to let you know the computer has recorded your response to the clip a tiny red flag will appear over a grey banner. After the clip you are watching is over, the flags relating to that particular clip will disappear. At the end of each viewed clip the screen will go blank for just a few seconds, the freeze frame of the next clip will appear and the countdown timer will begin, giving you sufficient time to prepare for the next clip. This process will then be repeated for each of the fourteen clips.

Why was the hazard perception test introduced?

This test was introduced for the following reasons:

  • Newly qualified drivers and young driver alike are disproportionately involved in a much higher percentage of collisions and they are more likely to be the party that is at fault.

  • The ability to spot and react properly to potential upcoming accidents is the one of the biggest difference between experienced and newly qualified drivers.

  • Through this specific potential upcoming accident perception training, new and inexperienced drivers are able to increase their driving perception skills to be more like an experienced driver.

    This test serves two purposes:

    • It will ensure that all learners have expereinceed common potential upcoming accident situation

    • The progression from learner to actual license holder can be slowed down a bit, meaning that any learners whose accident perception skills are lacking can be given a little more time to hone them.

    Your  perception skills aren’t only important when it comes to passing the UK mandated theory test, but they are a major part of everyday driving after you actually pass the test.

    Hazard Perception Test
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