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Hazard Perception: Dos and Don’ts

January 19, 2024

6 min read

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Leon McKenzie

Content Writer

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Before learners can even think about booking their driving test, they have one major roadblock to overcome: the theory test. For many, the multiple-choice section is a walk in the park (or at least pretty self-explanatory).

The hazard perception test, however, tends to trip up unsuspecting learners. Made up of video clips, the hazard perception test is designed to make sure learners know how to spot developing hazards—a key skill needed when taking to the roads. If you're not too familiar with it yet, you'll be pleased to know that we've got plenty of hazard perception advice for you!

We're going to take you through our compilation of hazard perception dos and don'ts. Once you know exactly what you're getting yourself into, you'll find yourself breezing through the hazard perception section in no time.

Hazard perception dos

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DO know what to expect

The trick to acing any test is knowing what the structure is and what's expected of you. (If you're already more than familiar with the theory test, you can skip ahead to our next point.) The theory test will first begin with a multiple-choice section. Once you've completed that section, you'll get a 3-minute break before moving onto the hazard perception test. Though you should be fully familiar with what it entails by the time you sit the test, you'll still have the chance to watch a practice clip that will explain the process to you.

When it comes to revising for the theory test, start with the Highway Code, which provides vital road information and rules. We advise buying resources like the official DVSA handbook or the AA theory test book. They both contain official DVSA questions with answers. Revise them thoroughly—they could show up on your test.

You'll be shown 14 clips in total, which will be shot as if you're driving along a variety of road types and in a range of weather conditions. You will need to use the mouse to click every time you spot a developing hazard occurring. One of the clips will contain two developing hazards; the rest, however, will only have one. Each hazard is worth 5 points, and the sooner you spot one, the more points you'll score. You will need to get 44 out of 75 in order to pass the hazard perception test.

You can get a better look at how this works exactly in the clip provided by the DVSA below.

DO click when you see a developing hazard

It’s all well and good telling you to click when you see a hazard, but it’s pointless if you don’t actually know what one is. Fortunately, we’ve got several handy examples to help make sure you know what you’re looking for.

  • Pedestrians moving into the road unexpectedly, either trying to cross the road or attempting to get into a car.
  • Cyclists swerving suddenly in front of you or cycling out of a side road ahead of you.
  • Heavy vehicles obstructing your view of the road ahead, or attempting to change lanes out of the blue.
  • Parked cars blocking the road ahead and forcing you to brake or change lanes quickly.
  • Roadworks forcing you to slow down or change lanes

Now, it’s important that you remember you only get points for spotting developing hazards, not potential ones. Not sure what the difference is? Potential hazards are circumstances that could lead to the driver having to take action. Developing hazards, by comparison, will definitely force a driver to take action. You’ll only score points for spotting developing hazards, and you won’t score any at all if you’re too late! To make it more clear for you, we’ve got an example from the DVSA:

“A car is parked at the side of the road and isn’t doing anything. It wouldn’t cause you to take action, so it’s not a developing hazard. When you get closer, the car’s right-hand indicator starts to flash and it starts to move away. You’d need to slow down, so it’s now a developing hazard.”

DO keep your eyes peeled

Of course, you should obviously keep your eyes peeled for developing hazards in the actual test. However, it would also be worth your while to do so whilst you’re in the car. It doesn’t matter if you haven’t started your driving lessons yet, as you can still keep your eye out for hazards even as a passenger.

The scenarios shown in the hazard perception clips mimic real-life situations. As such, you’re almost guaranteed to spot them whilst out and about. Just think about it for a moment. When was the last time you saw something like a cyclist swerving in front of a car (or vice versa)? We’re willing to bet it was within the last couple of weeks. It’s situations like these that will help you when it comes to taking your hazard perception test.

Once you start noticing these hazards on a daily basis, you’ll get better at predicting the patterns of developing hazards. You’ll be passing the hazard perception test in no time!

DO practise

There’s a reason that people say “practice makes perfect”... and that’s because it’s true! The more familiar and comfortable you are with taking hazard perception tests, the better you’ll perform on the day.

Learner drivers who listen to the many theory test myths circulating the learner community don’t bother practising, which is why they end up needing to retake the hazard perception test. Don’t fall prey to this! Instead, prepare by taking hazard perception mock tests. Trust us, you’ll be scoring top marks in no time.

Of course, you shouldn’t just concentrate on the hazard perception test. Remember that you have to pass both sections of the theory test in order to pass overall. You can’t book your driving test until you’ve passed the theory, so, unless you want to be waiting months, we’d suggest you buckle down and study as soon as possible. Fortunately, we’ve got a wealth of theory test resources to help you pass both sections with flying colours!

Hazard perception don'ts

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DON'T click in a pattern

If you’ve just decided to click with reckless abandon, in the hopes that you might score a few points here and there, you might want to rethink your strategy. The software used by the DVSA is on the lookout for suspicious patterns. If you’re constantly clicking throughout a clip, the software might assume you’re trying to cheat. This will result in you scoring zero marks and failing your theory test.

Of course, we don’t want you to be petrified of clicking out of fear that you might be accused of cheating. Unless you’re clicking in a particular pattern or incessantly, you don’t have to worry. You just need to approach the test calmly and click when you think you see a developing hazard. You won’t lose points if it doesn’t actually turn out to be a developing hazard.

DON'T just practise on your phone

Nowadays, most people revising the theory test practise online or using a mobile phone app. The benefit of this is that you can revise both the multiple-choice section and the hazard perception test whilst on the go. If you commute to college, university or work on a regular basis, this is incredibly handy.

Unfortunately, practising hazard perception on your phone can be counter-productive. When practising on your phone, you’re using the touchscreen to indicate when you spot a developing hazard. In the actual test, however, you’ll be using a mouse.

If you’ve not actually practised the hazard perception test with a mouse, you might find your reactions to be a bit slower on your big day. This could end up costing you precious points that could make the difference between a pass and a fail. So, if you’re going to practise with an app, make sure you take the time to try out a few mock tests on your computer too!

DON'T ignore how important it is

Believe it or not, the hazard perception test is actually important in helping you develop vital skills needed for driving unsupervised. The roads can be unpredictable and dangerous, which is why so many learners and new drivers tend to panic and make mistakes.

If you’re not used to looking at the road ahead to check for any potential problems, you might end up only taking action right before it has the potential to be catastrophic. Or worse, you might not have the chance to take action at all.

By practising for the hazard perception test, you’re building up the skills necessary for predicting any potential issues whilst on the road. If your hazard perception skills truly are up to snuff, you’ll be able to spot any potential danger and make necessary adjustments to your driving.

DON'T worry too much

As important as the hazard perception test is, and the theory test in general, it’s vital that you don’t get too bogged down by the pressure. If you’ve actually paid attention to our hazard perception advice, you should be more than prepared for your big day.

If you’re still feeling overwhelmed, you might find our guide to avoiding test day nerves to be just what the doctor ordered! Additionally, you should know that failing your theory test isn’t the end of the world. Plenty of learner drivers fail their theory test. Some do it several times in a row. You might even find it to be advantageous. After all, once you’ve experienced the nerves and familiarised yourself with the test centre and test layout, the second time around should be a walk in the park.

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