When you’re learning to drive, the practical sessions out on the road are only half of the story as there’s also a theory test which must also be passed.
Part of the theory examination is the hazard perception test, an area which is specifically designed to look at your awareness of other road users and those around you.
Here’s a more detailed look at exactly what the hazard perception test involves and how you can prepare for it.
The hazard perception test is completed on the computer and your responses are given by clicking the mouse.
You will be shown a total of 14 different moving scenes, shot from the perspective of inside a car and you have to indicate when you see the hazard.
Each of the scenes has one hazard present, other than one scene which has two hazards. You won’t know which scene has two hazards so it’s important to stay vigilant.
The sooner you spot the hazard and click the mouse, the more points you will score. If you click the mouse repeatedly or respond too late, you won’t score any points at all. It’s therefore important not to try and “trick” your way into passing but simply to pay attention and imagine you are on the road.
You don’t need to click on the actual hazard itself; anywhere on the screen will do. The maximum points on offer are 5 points per scene, other than the one which has two hazards when a maximum of 10 points are available.
The good thing about the hazard perception test is that you don’t need to learn lots of information in advance, or memorise road signs and rules. It’s just a way of checking that you have sufficient awareness of other road users and pedestrians so if you think about it in advance, and what you might expect to see, it could be a lot easier than you imagine.
What to expect
If you are alert to the presence of other road users and pedestrians and keep a look out for possible dangers, you may not need to carry out any specific exercises to practice for it.
Nevertheless, it can be very helpful to have an idea of the kinds of hazards you could be presented with during the test. Here’s a list of some of the types of hazard you could be expected to spot:
- Breakdown vehicle on a bend
- School children crossing with a bus waiting
- Country road with cyclists
- Vehicle parked up with hazard lights on
- U-turn being performed by a vehicle in the road
- Pedestrians attempting to cross road
- Blind man standing on the kerb
- Car ahead stopping suddenly
- Stray dog
- Vehicle joining from the right
- Vehicle pulling slowly out of a side road
There are a total of 200 hazards that the test can select from but the above list gives you an idea of the type of things you should be looking out for.
Preparing for the test
The hazard perception test is checking your awareness so taking some time to contemplate the type of hazards you might encounter, and reading through the examples above might be sufficient for you to pass.
However, if you want some practice beforehand, there are several sites which offer free practice runs. Google “hazard perception test” and you’ll find sites providing you with the opportunity to have a go for free; just remember to only visit sites which appear trustworthy and never to hand over your payment card details.
The hazard perception test is one of the later additions to the modern driving test but is considered essential to help identify those who don’t have the necessary road awareness to be behind the wheel of a car. Many new drivers are involved in accidents and this is often attributed to a lack of experience; the government believes that the use of a hazard perception test will help to get new drivers thinking about the risks and dangers on the road in a way that they wouldn’t necessarily otherwise do.