The hazard perception test explained

Everything you need to know about the theory test hazard perception, from when to click to hazard perception pass marks

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What is the hazard perception test?

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 is made up of silent video clips in which learner drivers must identify developing hazards on the road by clicking the mouse button.

How many clips are in the hazard perception test?

There are 14 clips in the hazard perception section of the theory test, 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. There’ll be:

  • 13 clips with one hazard to spot
  • One clip with two hazards to spot

You won’t be told which clip has two hazards in it.

When to click in the hazard perception test

When you spot a potential hazard, click as soon as you see it developing. The earlier you click on a developing hazard, the more points you will score.

However, it’s important that you only click when you do spot a hazard. Although there is no overall hazard perception click limit, clicking lots of times in quick succession or clicking with a regular pattern all the way through the clip will result in you scoring a zero for the clip. If that does happen, you’ll see a warning message on your screen at the end of the clip.

Potential hazards vs developing hazards

You might be wondering ‘do you have to click on the hazard in hazard perception’? Well, to answer that you’ll need to know the difference between a potential hazard and a developing hazard, because you only need to click if and when a hazard starts to develop.

Clicking on a potential hazard

Clicking on a potential hazard won’t give you any points, 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 - that’s when the potential hazard has become a developing hazard.

The click window

There will be a window of time in which you need to click, beginning as soon as a potential hazard turns into a developing hazard, and ending when it becomes a full-blown hazard (e.g. the pedestrian has walked into the road or the car has pulled out in front of you). The sooner you click within this window, the more points you earn. Clicking once the hazard has already developed fully 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.

We’ve already mentioned that how many clicks hazard perception candidates do overall won’t necessarily affect their score negatively (unless they’re clicking continuously), so don’t be afraid to click a few times per hazard as you might have clicked just before the scoring window opened. It’s better to click a few too many times than too few.

To get a better idea of what to expect in your hazard perception test, watch our short video:

What is the hazard perception pass mark?

You can score up to 5 marks on each hazard. The maximum score on the hazard perception test is 75, and learner drivers will need to score 44 to pass. That means your average hazard perception score for each hazard needs to be at least 2.93 in order to pass.

How does the hazard perception test work?

The hazard perception section of the test will come after the multiple choice theory test questions. 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.

At the end of each clip, the screen will go black for a few seconds and then the freeze frame for the next video clip will appear. There will be a countdown to the next clip so that you’re fully ready. This sequence will continue until you’ve seen all 14 clips.

What is classed as a hazard in the hazard perception test?

Knowing what counts as a hazard in hazard perception 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.

A few hazards that could come up include:

  • Pedestrians walking into the road
  • Cars pulling out in front of you at junctions
  • An animal running out into the road
  • A car door opening into your path
  • Parked cars pulling out unexpectedly

Basically, anything that could cause your car to change speed or course could be described as a hazard.

Although a number of perceived hazards may exist in the clips, you will only score points for the developing hazard - meaning the hazard that causes the driver in the video to slow down or change direction.

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.

Hazard perception test practice

Preparing for the DVSA hazard perception test takes practice, so make sure you do plenty of it before you book your theory test. There are lots of practice opportunities out there!

  • Free hazard perception tests online
  • DVSA hazard perception mock tests
  • Mock tests on the Midrive Learner app
  • Practical driving experience

While hazard perception mock tests are a great way to get your head around the format of the test, the best theory test hazard perception practice is heading out for a driving lesson or some driving practice so that you can experience developing hazards in real life.