Theory

The hazard perception test: all you need to know

7 min read • Oct 29, 2018
hazard

The UK driving theory test is made up of two sections: the 50 question multiple choice part and the hazard perception test. The hazard perception section of the driving test is designed to make sure learner drivers can recognise potential and developing hazards on the road. Here, we explain how the test works and what you need to do to make sure you pass with flying colours.

A hazard is anything whch causes you to change speed, to change direction, or to stop.

What is the hazard perception test?

The hazard perception section of the theory test is made up of a series of 14 short silent clips, in which you’ll have to identify potential hazards as they develop. The short videos will show real-life scenarios from the point of view of a driver. In 13 clips there will be one hazard to spot, but in one clip there will be two hazards to spot. You won’t be told which clip has two hazards in it.

When you spot a potential hazard, click as soon as you see it developing. You can score up to 5 marks on each clip, and the earlier you click on a developing hazard, the more points you will score. It’s important that you only click when you do spot a hazard, as continuously clicking will result in you scoring a 0. The maximum score on the hazard perception test is 75, and learner drivers will need to score 44 to pass.

How to pass the hazard perception test

The hazard perception section of the driving test will come after the multiple choice section. You will be given the choice to either have a short break or to go straight into watching the clips. Once you start the hazard perception test, you will be shown an example clip, before the real test begins.

At the start of each clip, the image will be frozen on the screen for 10 seconds before it starts. Use this time to take a look at the kind of scene the clip is in. If, for example, it’s in an urban environment, you’ll know to expect hazards like pedestrians, vehicles or cyclists. If the scene is in a rural setting, on the other hand, keep your eye out for animals in the road, walkers or vehicles stopped down country lanes.

Knowing what kind of hazards to expect can really help when it comes to the hazard perception test. If you’ve already had a few driving lessons or practice driving sessions, draw upon your on-road experiences. If you know what a potential hazard could be and can recognise when it’s developing, you’ll already be halfway there to passing the hazard perception test. To get a better idea of what to expect in your hazard perception test, watch our short video:

Video transcript

The hazard perception test: how does it work?

  • You’ll be shown 14 different video clips of everyday road and scenes. Most clips with only contain one hazard, but one of the clips will contain two.
  • Click the mouse every time you see a hazard that may cause you to slow down or change direction. The sooner your spot the hazard, the more points you’ll score.

Give it a try! How did you do? Let’s take a look:

  • This car’s been indicating since the start of the clip but has just pulled out. If you only notice it as it was doing so, chance are you won’t score any points for that.
  • While the dog never becomes a “developing hazard” (i.e. causes the driver to take action), it’s worth clicking just in case.
  • Again, to score as many points as possible, you should have clicked the moment you saw this guy exit the park on the right.

Tips and tricks:

  • You can score a maximum of five points per hazard
  • The pass mark is 44 out of a possible total of 75.
  • Although a number perceived hazards may exist, you will only score points for the developing hazard; i.e. the hazard that causes the driver in the video to slow down or change direction.
  • Click only where necessary, the computer will know if you’re trying to cheat. But at the same time, don’t be afraid to click a few times per hazard - the scoring window will only open once the hazard develops. Just because you’ve clicked to identify a particular hazard doesn’t mean you’ll score points. It’s better to click a few too many times than too few.
  • Always book your test via a .gov website, unofficial routes may end up costing you more.

What’s the difference between a potential hazard and a developing hazard?

Remember, you only need to click when the hazard starts to develop. There will be a window of time in which you need click. This will begin as soon as a potential hazard turns into a developing hazard, and will end once the hazard is a full-blown hazard (e.g. the pedestrian has walked into the road or the car has pulled out in front of you).

Clicking whilst the hazard is still only a potential hazard will result in you scoring a 0, so don’t just click every time you see a pedestrian walking down the road or a car waiting at a junction. You will need to wait until that pedestrian looks like they’re going to walk out into the road or the car starts to move. Similarly, clicking once the hazard has already developed into a hazard, will also score you a 0.

You will know that your click has been registered because a red flag will appear in the bottom corner of the screen.

What is the purpose of hazard perception?

Being able to predict what hazards could appear and knowing how to react to them are both part of becoming a safe driver. Read our guide to being a defensive driver to find out how to anticipate and react to the actions of other road users.

The hazard perception section of the driving theory test is designed to test your ability to spot hazards in real-life scenarios. Whilst the multiple choice section of the theory test makes sure you can recognise the meaning of road signs and can adhere to the highway code, hazard perception focuses more on the reality of being on the road.

Take a look at our tips on how to revise for your theory test and download our free theory app to make the most of your theory test and hazard perception test preparation.

Image courtesy of dsagovuk @ Flickr via Crown Copyright.

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