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Road Tests

Hazard Perception Test

All learner drivers need to pass the Theory Test before they can apply for the practical Test. The Theory Test comprises 2 separate elements - Multiple-Choice Questions and Hazard Perception. The learner needs to pass both elements of the Test at the same sitting, otherwise they need to take the whole Test again.


Hazard Perception TestThe Driving Standards Agency decided to introduce a new element to the Theory Test at the end of 2002. The new element is all to do with hazard perception. It will consist of a computer-based test of moving video clips, which involves candidates clicking whenever they spot a developing hazard.

Reasons for the test

Young drivers between 17 and 25 years of age are more likely to be involved in a road traffic accident than any other age group.

Specifically, within the first two years of passing the driving test, new drivers are more vulnerable than any other drivers:

As many as 1 in 5 new drivers has an accident in the first year, and whereas 17-21 year-olds represents only about 7% of all licence holders, they make up 13% of drivers involved in injury accidents.
(Source DETR: Road Safety Research Series No 2 - Novice Drivers' Safety)

The reasons for their higher risk include poor physical control of the vehicle, as well as poor attitudes and behaviour.

Research has shown that young drivers - both male and female - have more accidents in the evenings and early mornings than older drivers and that a higher proportion of these are single-vehicle accidents.

Speed is a considerably more significant factor in young-driver accidents than it is in accidents involving older drivers. Alcohol, fatigue and peer pressure from friends also contributes to accidents at these times and under these circumstances.

An Example:
A group of friends aged between 18 and 20 go out for the evening. The driver drinks only soft drinks all evening; the other drink alcohol. At the end of the evening the group head home.

In high spirits, the friends egg the driver to go faster and take more risks.

The driver heads into a bend too fast, misjudges the severity of the curve, brakes hard in the bend and locks the wheels.

This causes a skid, which cannot be corrected because the car has no anti-lock breaking system and so, while the wheels are locked, the car cannot be steered.

The driver loses control of the vehicle and crashes.

A combination of all the factors mentioned above could easily cause such a crash to happen.

With experience, drivers learn not to succumb to peer pressure
More importantly, drivers learn not to over-estimate their ability.

They also learn how to look further down the road and predict the dangers ahead.

They learn to ask, "What if… a lorry was broken down around the bend or there are roadworks, someone is cutting across the bend coming the other way?"

Reading the road ahead and predicting where the next accident could be lurking is what hazard perception is all about.

The Hazard Perception Test - Why is it a good thing?

Generally, it takes one year before the accident rate of young drivers starts to tail off and two years before the accident rate of young drivers equals that of experienced drivers.

In other words, it takes two years to acquire the experience necessary to keep you alive.

Two years is a long time and there is plenty of opportunity to make a number of mistakes.

Both the Theory Test and the new Hazard Perception Test are designed to improve novice drivers' skills so that they are less at risk within the first two years of passing the Driving Test.

Research has shown that just three hours of hazard perception training can reduce the accident rate of the inexperienced driver.

We believe the introduction Hazard Perception is a good thing as, with training, you are not just more likely to pass, you are also less likely to be involved in an accident within the first two years of passing the Practical Test.

Information supplied by BSM.

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