Learning to drive is an exciting part of your life and quite a transformation of your lifestyle once finished, enabling freedom and a sense of independence. So it goes without saying that you want to get that practical test done, tear up those L-plates, and swap that green provision licence for the pink full one to get out there and fully immerse yourself in the world of driving. Go for it, what’s stopping you?
Well…. First things first! Before you can do the practical driving test, you’ve got to complete the theory test first, and along with that, is the hazard perception.
The Hazard Perception test is relatively recent by driving test standards, having only been introduced in 2002, and was designed to help new drivers improve their…. Well, hazard perception. It is exactly what it says on the tin!
Studies have found that, when driving, new drivers tend to be somewhat undefined in perceiving hazards on the roads that appear on the road especially in their peripherals. Hardly unexpected, no-one adapts completely to everything straight away, but this is an essential part of driving. When controlling a one-ton vehicle that’s travelling anywhere been 30-60mph (if not beyond), which is driving in a nutshell, it requires effective identifying and prioritising of potential hazards ahead. So drivers do need to be aware of anything that could potentially cause a hazard whilst driving to minimise risks.
This is where the hazard perception test comes in. Whereas the theory test just goes over, well, basic theory (again, exactly what is says on tin) which is simply answering questions written onscreen, the hazard perception is visually based. The learner driver will watch a series of video clips, originally live action footage, but since 2015 CGI allows different situations to play out onscreen with users either clicking a mouse or touching the screen whenever they see potential hazards developing. However, simply keep clicking in the hopes that eventually you’ll hit something isn’t a good strategy. The test programmers have already thought about that and learner driver’s will be penalised if they’re perceived to be constantly clicking.
On 19th November, the DVSA have added 23 new clips to simulate driving in undesirable weather conditions to include snow, fog and rain in order to maximise learner drivers’ training in hazard perception.
Unlike the theory test, which requires a score of 43/50 to pass, the hazard perception is a bit more lenient, requiring online 44/75, so it gives the learner drivers a bit more leeway, but still it is very important to make sure you do as well at this as possible.
All of this can be done as soon as you turn 17, and you don’t even need to have taken a single driving lesson before you can do your theory and Hazard Perception test.
Some pupils prefer to start lessons first, or just get through the theory and Hazard Perception and then start their actual lessons. Of course, in order to do the test, you will need to have a provisional, so make sure you’ve got that!
While the test is challenging, it’s far from impossible, and providing you study and practice hard at it, passing should be easily within any learner driver’s abilities.