We Visit the Trials Of The
Hazard Perception Test

The DSA have told us that hazard perception test, which will be introduced during 2002, will be taken at the same time as the theory test and will take about an extra 15 minutes. The object is to identify hazards as quickly as possible, and you will have to pass this before being let loose on the practical test.

The Place:- Williamson Square, Liverpool
On a cold and wet Autumn Morning.

The trial trailer was parked in Williamson Square, which is right in the centre of Liverpool. An ideal place for the trials, or so I thought.
the van! Liverpool Football Club Sports Shop is right opposite and there are lots of people around the area doing a bit of early Christmas shopping. A notice had been placed outside the van asking for volunteers to take the test but only people who had taken the actual test within the last 2 years where allowed an entry to win a car. I was at the trailer for over an hour and not one person had volunteered to have a go!

How will the hazard perception test work?
I was allowed to have a go at some of the clips on trial but because I had passed my test some years ago, my results were not recorded ( just as well!). Each video clip contained one or more developing hazards and was taken from inside an actual car going along the road. I was asked to indicate as soon as they see a hazard developing which may result in the driver taking some action, such as changing speed or direction.
No touch screen here. I had to point the mouse at the hazard and click. A red flag showed in the bottom left corner to say I had indicated a hazard.
The video clip started and I was shown the road ahead. The clip appeared to be moving very slow. At this speed the only hazard appeared to be me. Then a side road appeared on the left. Should I Click? My instructions where "see a hazard developing which may result in the driver taking some action". At this speed and with no one at the junction I decided to let it pass without a click. ( right or wrong thing to do? I would not know! )
A traffic sign shows next. Should I click the mouse? I was not sure. It still feels that I'm only doing 10 mph!

Other clips included single track roads, driving on a dual carriageway ( in the outside lane), approaching single lane hump back bridges, travelling behind a high sided van, approaching mini-roundabouts, traffic lights, pedestrain crossing, cyclists pulling out from juctions, cars reversing out of driveways.
Is a parked car not perilous, since its door could suddenly swing open into the road? Is a green traffic light not "hazardous" since it will, at some point, turn to red? And what about a simple bend in the road - dangerous perhaps because you can't see round it?

On that basis, you might as well just merrily click away at everything you see on screen. And that, apparently, is the secret to the whole thing.

But it seems you will be punished, if you decide that a seemingly innocuous hedgerow poses a threat since, who knows, it might be home to a nesting skylark which, panicked by your approaching vehicle, darts into the road, and hits an on-coming pedal cyclist who swerves into your path. After all, it could happen!

The standard of the driver in the video car in one or two of the clips was appauling. Surely, the standard of driving on the video car should be first class. Some of the scenes may have been reconstructed, but this is no excuse for poor driving. It would set a bad example to any new driver.
The trial appeared to be short of volunteers. Why aren't the trials being done at the theory test centres? That is where the touch screen trials had taken place with success some years ago.

The test is very confusing. You have no control with the speed of the video clip. There are hundreds of developing hazards in these video clips. A man leaving his front door and walking down the path to his car which is 30 metres away could be a hazard. On some clips I could click the mouse 20 times with good reason and some clips only received a few.
So how can the marking be done? If I can click 20 times on a clip which should have only 2 hazards, would my score be altered? If it was decided that providing I had got the right 2 hazards, then I would receive a score, all I would have to do is repeatedly click onto the clip.

There is still a lot to be done before this test can go out at the same time as the Theory Test.

This trial used a mouse, the actual theory test is touch screen ( this should not present much of a problem)

Some of the clips used in the trial appear to be slow moving and others showed dangerous driving but we have been told the idea is to show
  • the correct use of speed
  • selection of an appropriate separation distance
  • the ability to scan effectively, and
  • to anticipate and plan for hazardous situations.
The clips I was shown only allowed me to do the latter two.

As Ricky Tomlinson of the 'The Royle Family' would say in these parts of Liverpool,
The Hazard Perception Theory Test in Autumn 2002 - "My A***"

More information on the Hazard Perception Test can be found2passhere