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Hazard Perception

There has been a significant increase in the focus of hazard perception and hazard awareness in the last few years since the introduction by the DSA of a separate hazard perception element to the theory test.

Hazard perception requires you to always be thinking of, looking out for and being aware of potential hazards so that you can react in good time should that hazard develop from a potential into a real hazard.

For instance, if there is a cyclist on the pavement, then they may not currently be a hazard but you should be aware that they could swerve out into the road and become an actual hazard. Often the lines are a little blurred and it is a matter of interpretation but as a general rule of thumb, anything that could potentially be dangerous to you or anyone else is a potential hazard that then can develop into an actual hazard.

There are a large range of different hazards. If a police car is coming up behind you with lights flashing attending an emergency, then that is a hazard situation. Some hazards are more clear cut than others: clearly a driver going the wrong way is a very real and dangerous hazard. Where two different sections of road join and one driver pulls dangerously in front of the other is of course also a hazard situation.

If a pedestrian or other road user behaves erratically, swerves or drives too closely to you, then this is also a hazard. The key to hazard perception is always be alert to what is happening and what other road users are doing. If you spot debris in the road well ahead of where it is for instance, then you can mitigate that hazard by reacting in good time, rather than not paying attention to the road and having to take a potentially dangerous manoueuvre to avoid it at the last minute.

So it can be seen that related to hazard perception are the skills of alertness, safety margins, attitude, knowledge of road and traffic signs and the rules of the road.

You can practice hazard perception by testing your awareness against our video clips.

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You are travelling along the left-hand lane of a three-lane motorway. Traffic is joining from a slip road. You should A) race the other vehicles B) move to another lane C) maintain a steady speed D) switch on your hazard flashers

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