Hazard Perception Test tips for learner drivers, and what to expect when you sit it
Hazard perception is a critical factor when it comes to safe driving, and it’s definitely something that improves with experience on the road. In fact, there are plenty of advanced driver training schemes out there that focus on the subject of hazard perception, as being aware of the potential dangers unfolding around you is a potential lifesaver.
The government knows it too, which is why the video-based Hazard Perception Test has been a significant element of the Driving Theory Test since 2002. Your Hazard Perception scores must reach a certain standard, or you’ll fail the Theory test even if you’ve aced the Q and A sections. That means it’s vital that you’re prepared for the test, and know what to expect before you turn up for your Theory Test booking.
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In practice the Hazard Perception Test always follows the Q and A session, and you won’t know if you’ve passed the Theory Test until you’ve completed both. Unlike the Q and A which have right and wrong answers, the Hazard Perception Test pass is based on a computer analysis of the time it takes you to react to events unfolding on a series of videos.
They videos are designed to present a series of real life potential hazards of the kind you’ll confront every day when driving on your own after a successful test pass. Your job is to spot the key moments, and click the computer mouse to register you’re on the ball as early as possible before tricky situations have a chance to develop.
While the tests are straightforward to sit, and don’t require any more computer skills than the ability to click a mouse, they can cause problems for candidates. Fortunately, the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency has a YouTube video explainer, and there are plenty of opportunities to practice the Hazard Perception Test online on driving school websites.
Meanwhile we’ve put together this guide, featuring the best ways to prepare for it, how long the test takes and what it comprises of, plus what you should and shouldn’t do when it’s your turn to take it.
Hazard perception test: how it works
At the beginning of the test, candidates are shown a video clip about how the test works, but it’s a good idea to get your head around this before you get to the test centre. There are plenty of practice hazard perception tests available online.
The test itself consists of fourteen video clips which feature road scenes you can expect during everyday driving, with at least one developing hazard – something that will cause you to take some form of action (for example changing direction or speed). There’s one clip in the test that will feature two hazards.
The method of measuring awareness and reaction to potential hazards is based on the candidate clicking a computer mouse for every hazard they recognise. Don’t go thinking you can get away with click frantically at everything that moves though.
Official DVSA hazard perception test video
If you dish out clicks willy-nilly assuming you’ll gain marks for being extra cautious and aware, think again. Doing this can actually count against you as there is a hazard perception click limit. Also, not clicking enough will also count against you as you will be missing the potential hazards shown.
For each video clip, noticing and responding to each hazard as early as possible can achieve a maximum of five points. As mentioned previously though, over-clicking or clicking in a regular pattern will result in a score of zero for that clip and you’ll be informed of your score at the end.
The hazard perception test lasts twenty minutes, and you don’t get the chance to go back and repeat any of the clips or questions. This is to reflect real-life driving where you don’t get a second chance. To pass the hazard perception test, a score of 44 out of 75 must be achieved.
Hazard perception test: five top tips
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