Hazard perception test ‘not fit for purpose’

Hazard perception test ‘not fit for purpose’
Hazard perception test ‘not fit for purpose’

The hazard perception is out of date and in need of modernisation, according to most newly qualified drivers.

A poll of drivers found that 53 per cent of those who have recently passed their driving test thought the computer-based awareness segment didn’t reflect the problems facing modern motorist.

According to the study by LV= Direct insurance, drivers want to see potential dangers such as pedestrians crossing while using their phone, mobility scooters and even low-flying drones added to the test.


The current test, which was introduced in 2002, contains hazards such as cyclists, cars turning ahead and horse riders, but new drivers said they had experienced other dangerous situations not covered. Among the most common were potholes (reported by 41 per cent of new drivers), pedestrians on mobile phones (33 per cent) and children on scooters 21 per cent).

A third of new drivers had experienced a pedestrian crossing the road while on the phone

Top 10 hazards not in the test, according to new drivers

  1. Children playing near roads
  2. Potholes
  3. Pedestrians crossing the road while on a mobile phone
  4. Pedestrians crossing the road with headphones in
  5. Children on scooters
  6. Dedicated cycle lanes
  7. Mobility scooters
  8. Couriers
  9. Vape clouds from vehicle windows
  10. Low flying drones

Nearly half (47 per cent) of new drivers say the hazard perception test didn’t prepare them for life on the road.

Heather Smith, managing director of LV= Direct, said: “Driving conditions have changed a lot since the hazard perception test was launched 16 years ago. New drivers told us that the hazards they experience aren’t featured in the test, contributing to them being unprepared for today’s roads.

“We believe that all drivers should feel confident on the road, which is why we are calling on the Government to update the current test.”

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) has backed LV=’s call. Its head of road safety, Kevin Clinton,  commented: “In recent years, more accidents have occurred due to ‘modern’ driving hazards. For example, year-on-year we have seen an increase in the number of incidents due to potholes. That’s why we are supporting LV=’s call to make sure the hazard perception test is kept relevant.”

Constant review

The DVSA says it is currently working on updating the hazard perception portion of the test.

Chief driving examiner, Mark Winn told us: “DVSA’s priority is to help everyone through a lifetime of safe driving.

“The theory test requires candidates to demonstrate they have a good knowledge of the rules of the road and the theory behind safe driving.

“We keep the test under constant review to ensure it remains as effective as possible and are currently working to update the hazard perception test to reflect real-world driving scenarios.”

The test has also be defended by driving instructors.

Ian McIntosh, CEO of RED Driving School commented: “The purpose of the hazard perception test is to assess novice drivers’ ability to look ahead, remain alert and appropriately respond to risks – and it is currently very effective at testing this. It would be impossible to simulate all of the risks that are encountered on the road in a comparatively short theory test, but an alert and vigilant approach to driving is fundamental to reducing risks and increasing safety on the road, regardless of the manner of the hazard.”

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