Hazard Perception Test: How to Click Your Way to a Pass

by Adam Phillips - 4 Min Read

It’s a test that demands commitment and practise to pass – but how are ADIs teaching their pupils to deal with its idiosyncrasies?

Evaluating and understanding the Hazard Perception Test and how it works is something of a dark art for ADIs and pupils alike. In theory, the process is straightforward according to the DVSA’s own guidelines:

“To get a high score you need to respond to the developing hazard as soon as you see it starting.”

In execution however, judging precisely where the hazards are and when they should be clicked on can prove to be something of a mystery.

Cheat Detection System Too Sensitive?

The plot thickens further thanks to the test’s cheat detection system, which is summed up by the DVSA as follows:

“If you click continuously or in a pattern during a clip a message will appear at the end. It will tell you that you have scored zero for that particular clip.”

This advice can leave pupils scratching their heads as they’re failed because the system has deemed that they have clicked too many times and are simply trying to ‘game’ the test. The problem according to ADIs is that the detection system is too sensitive.

“According to my pupils, people are often getting disqualified from videos because the system thinks they are cheating, particularly in the busy town scenarios,” explains Debbie Brewer of Debs Driving School. “The town scenes have so many potential hazards that it is too easy to get disqualified. It is not that pupils are clicking too much, more that because there are so many hazards, the number of clicks they end up performing causes the system to believe that students have been clicking in a pattern, so the system is flawed.”

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“The Theory Test Pro hazard perception option is excellent practice for my pupils, and the feedback from them has been very positive.”

Timing & Practise Produce Hazard Perception Passes

To combat this potential issue, practise is of course essential. It’s why Theory Test Pro offers mock HPT clips plus the ability for students to playback said clip, revealing the marked hazard in relation to where the pupil clicked.

Also imperative is identifying the potential hazard in the first instance. Debbie and other ADIs including Stuart Rigby of The Driving Academy use a unique approach to keeping click rates manageable and accurate: “I find some pupils can notice the hazard a little too early,” explains Stuart. “It’s why I introduced the two-second rule – the student clicks when they first see a hazard, waits two seconds and then clicks again. This approach stops people from scoring zero if they click a little too early.”

Another issue with the Hazard Perception Test can be the students themselves. Extensive practise is critical to passing and building confidence but getting students to realise how difficult the HPT is in the first place can be an uphill struggle, as Stuart explains: “I often find that pupils skip the HPT during learning, dismissing it because they believe it’s simply all about common sense. Even when reviewing some pupils’ progress within Theory Test Pro, I see little attention being paid to the HPT.”

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“Half the problem is the struggle that pupils have working with the HPT system itself.”

Learners, Spot Road Hazards while Driving

To encourage them to participate, Stuart ensures that the issue of hazard perception is brought up during actual lessons by asking pupils to highlight potential hazards while driving. Using a dash cam is also an invaluable educational tool – it means that he and the student can review hazards at the end of each lesson so they become part of the learning process.

Debbie believes another key method for inspiring pupils to engage with the HPT is to book the theory test, “ so they have a deadline to work to, which encourages them to use Theory Test Pro. It enables me to see their progress too and give positive comments to encourage their learning – and for them to ask questions.”

Ironically though, it’s generally the young people who shine the most when they do actually apply themselves; more so than other age groups: “I think the DVSA Hazard Perception Test is delivered well, but is more like a computer game than real life,” explains Debbie, “and because of this, I find the young inexperienced learners perform better with it.”

We suspect that this trend will only increase once the DVSA makes the move to full computer-generated clips for the Hazard Perception Test. The introduction of CGI could also help deal with the current issues surrounding the HPT as well, offering clip designers an exacting, easily-controlled process for creating clips where the fog of confusion is finally removed. Time will tell.

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Test your hazard perception skills by signing up to Theory Test Pro here.

9 Comments

  1. Driving School Crawley

    In order to pass the hazard perception test you do have to often consider clicking multiple times, as if you click too early for the hazard then you will not get any points as the click was not done inside the time window, so in this circumstance you have to click a few times, but have to avoid making it repetitive as you will score zero points if the system feels like you are clicking in a set pattern and cheating.

    Ultimately the system is not that effective and really is just about passing the test, it does not encourage candidates to decide how to react to the hazard, just to spot it. It is a bit pointless if you spot a child running in to the road and failing to react.

  2. Steven Haigh

    I teach mine to click when they see a hazard, then say “It’s still there” in their head. If it is still there then click again and repeat the phrase. If it is still there then click again . This gives you 3 clicks and avoids the early clicking trap mentioned above. Then say “And now I have to wait” before clicking again. That way you break up the sequence and are unlikely to trip the cheat trap.

  3. Ollie Bartram

    I have failed the theory test 4 times now because of the flaw with the cheat detection. Twice, I have clicked just 7 times and it has failed me on the clip where as on the next video, I have clicked more than twice the amount of times and had no message pop up.
    I will try Steven Haigh’s tip on my next trip to the testing centre. Hope it helps me! Lol

  4. keith

    I tell my students to only click when they see a hazard that would actually make them brake or alter direction, then I tell them to click pause click again.

    although I can see the benefits for learner car drivers, I do not see the point of this test for experienced car drivers taking vocational tests for bus & lorry.

  5. Mike Cairns

    Some good comments on the HPT. No mention of observational links and driving plans though. For example when the clip begins there’s a short pause to look at the road and environment your about to drive on. Country lane = sheep or horses maybe, perhaps a better understanding of the typical hazards associated with a particular road would help.

  6. Idris

    I agree, it is quite a confusing test! Some students click just when someone is walking along a pavement, because this could lead to a hazard. I think it’s best to click when you first see a hazard, wait a few seconds then click again. This means you won’t have clicked too early, and if the hazard is developing, you will have clicked for this too. I also find the quality of the videos aren’t actually that great, they look a bit out-dated.

  7. Mick Bull

    I teach pupils to sit for ten minutes and see how many clicks they can do on a clip and not be detected by the ‘cheat’ device! Most pupils get caught once, think that they can only click once or twice, and are afraid to click any more than that.

    To understand that it is patterns and not the amount of clicks helps with confidence on these videos.

  8. Name (required)

    I‘ve failed my theory test a few times. I have no trouble with the multiple choice – it’s the hazard perception that gets me every time. Please, does anyone have any tips as I sit my test this Wednesday.

  9. Adam Phillips

    Hi Lee,

    Use the playback feature on Theory Test Pro after finishing a clip. This will show you the marked hazard in relation to where you clicked. Also, try taking one of the practice hazard exams we offer on page four of the clips. These are given in the same format as the official test, running 14 clips one after the other, giving your score at the end.

    Drop us a line on help@theorytestpro.co.uk if you need more information and the best of luck with your test.

    Theory Test Pro

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