The Hazard Perception Test is a video-based assessment designed to test your awareness of potential hazards that you might encounter while driving. It forms the second part of your Driving Theory Test, after the multiple-choice section.
You are allowed a three minute break after finishing the multiple-choice section, and then you will also watch a brief introductory video before starting the Hazard Perception Test.
During the test you will watch 14 video clips in total, each lasting approximately 1 minute. Each clip consists of footage recorded from the front of a car while driving around urban or rural roads, and is designed to include a range of potential hazards often involving other road users.
The assessment is designed to test your awareness of hazards, so for the purposes of the assessment you should react as though you were the driver of the vehicle that is recording the footage.
To test your awareness of hazards while driving, the Hazard Perception Test requires you to click the mouse button provided as soon as you notice a potential hazard appear on screen, and again each time the potential hazard develops.
Each video clip may include a number of hazards including static hazards (like traffic signals and road signs) to developing hazards (like brake lights or cars pulling out and moving off). Some of the potential hazards will develop into more serious situations that require action to be taken by you, the driver of the vehicle recording the video footage – either by changing your speed, direction or stopping completely.
Hazards may develop by:
– becoming more obvious or dangerous
– involving more road users
– requiring you to react and take action
In 13 out of 14 video clips only one hazard per video clip will actually develop into a situation that requires action by you, the driver. However, in one video clip you will be presented with two potential hazards that develop and require action, though you are not told which. This means you should obviously try and concentrate for the full length of each clip to make sure you identify all developing hazards.
To pass the Hazard Perception Test you will need to score a minimum of 44 points out of the possible 75. The maximum number of points you can score for each hazard is 5, though the longer it takes you to click on the hazard the fewer points you will score.
Scoring for Developing Hazards
To score highly in the Hazard Perception Test you must demonstrate a good level of road awareness by identifying the hazard(s) that eventually require you to take action by clicking as early as possible. You should also click again each time the hazard develops.
For example, the video clip may show the very front of a car appearing at the mouth of a driveway a few hundred metres down the road from you. Although this car is now stationery and poses no immediate risk to you, and although you don’t need to react by changing your speed or direction, you should still click the mouse button to indicate your awareness of the potential hazard.
After a few seconds you may notice the car begin to pull out of the driveway into the road without looking both ways carefully, putting the car at risk of hitting oncoming traffic. At this point the potential hazard is developing by becoming more dangerous and by involving more road users, so you should click again – even though you still do not need to take action yourself.
The car may notice the oncoming traffic just in time and stop suddenly, but as you get closer they may try again, causing the car in front of you to have to perform an emergency stop. This would mean the hazard had developed again – this time requiring action from you as well – so you should click again.
Don’t Click Too Frequently
The test software is designed to try and distinguish between people monitoring and responding to hazards appropriately, and people ‘hedging their bets’ by clicking in a systematic pattern, or clicking every few seconds, or clicking multiple times in quick succession. You should aim to strike a balance between clicking often enough to score highly, and clicking so often that the software assumes you are just clicking randomly.
You do not need to click every time you see another car on the road, unless it is behaving in an unusual or dangerous way. If there are ten pedestrians waiting at traffic lights you do not need to click ten times! Generally you should click no more than about three times for any given developing hazard.
Common Types of Hazard
There are many different types of hazard that you might encounter on the roads, and the Hazard Perception Test covers a representative range of types of hazard. The type of hazard depends on the driving situation, so you may find that daytime driving in busy residential areas will present very different types of hazard to night-time driving in rural areas.
General hazards include:
– road signs that might relate to a hazard ahead
– emergency vehicles that might behave unpredictably
– poor visibility, whether from lighting, weather or road conditions
– other vehicles changing lanes, particularly in response to other hazards
– signals from vehicles in front, particularly brake lights and indicator lights
Common urban hazards include:
– vehicles emerging from junctions or driveways
– pedestrians approaching or entering the road, zebra crossings
– motorists looking for parking spaces
– motorists leaving or returning to their vehicles (eg opening doors)
– vehicles turning right at junctions
– schools or children playing
– animals entering the road (eg dogs or cats)
– vehicles other than cars (eg cyclists or motorcyclists)
– reduced visibility of potential hazards because of parked cars
– large vehicles moving to your side of the road (eg buses, lorries)
– traffic restrictions
Common rural hazards include:
– slow moving traffic (eg cyclists, horses or farm animals, tractors or farm machinery)
– narrow roads may only be wide enough for a single vehicle
– sharp turns, blind or unmarked junctions
– concealed exits because of high or overgrown trees and bushes
– reduced visbility of potential hazards because of narrow roads, high hedges or sharp bends
– no pavements, so pedestrians may walk against the flow of traffic
– national speed limit, so traffic may approach at far higher speeds
– hazards on the road itself, such as mud, manure, hay, silage
Common motorway hazards include:
– cars breaking down, leaving or entering the hard shoulder
– cars changing lanes in response to slow-moving vehicles
– cars changing lanes in response to vehicles merging
– cars slowing down to leave the motorway
– emergency notices, road works
– unexpected queues of stationery vehicles
– traffic travelling at unexpectedly high or low speeds