Hazard perception test wins Prince’s Premier Award

12.00 | 10 December 2014 | | 1 comment

The hazard perception section of the driving theory test was named winner of the Premier Award at the 2014 Prince Michael International Road Safety Awards’ ceremony in London yesterday (9 Dec).

The Prince Michael International Road Safety Awards recognise innovation, achievement and best practice which can be shared, applied or replicated across international boundaries to reduce the number being killed or injured on the world’s roads. This year the calibre of entries was described as “truly outstanding” and a record 20 organisations received awards. 

The presentation ceremony was attended by guests from across the world including the Australian High Commissioner and roads minister John Hayes MP, who joined HRH Prince Michael of Kent to celebrate the achievements of the winners.

Prince Michael met all the award winners and presented his Premier Award to many of those who worked on the hazard perception test, including representatives from TRL, DVSA and Reading University. 

As the name suggests, the hazard perception test uses video clips to test candidates’ reactions to hazards on the road. The original filmed clips are soon to be replaced with animated clips, incorporating a wider range of hazards. Every year around 1.5m hazard perception tests are taken as part of the theory test, with an average pass rate of 85%.

The Prince Michael judges described the hazard perception test as an “outstanding innovation, which had made a considerable improvement to road safety and was well overdue for recognition”.

Prince Michael said: “This annual event has become much more than simply an occasion to celebrate success. It is an opportunity for many of the world’s experts to meet others who share a passion for road safety and to share ideas and beliefs.

“The Decade of Action is a mosaic of strategies and initiatives, some reaching across nations, others delivering improvements in one small community.

“But taken together, they represent a significant upswing in awareness and activity; my award winners make a significant contribution to this effort. They form a very special community, one which extends its reach across the world.”



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    While I think that the Hazard Perception Test was a step in the right direction, it does not go nearly far enough.

    In the course of my work I regularly use a driving simulator with young drivers and it highlights a fault with the DSA’s test. On our simulator the drivers have to tell the computer that they have identified a hazard, but they are still driving a simulated vehicle and they then have to formulate a plan to safely deal with the hazard. This contrasts with the DSA test in which all they have to do is acknowledge that the hazard exists without coming up with any plan to cope with it.

    The simulators are available, so when will the DSA move on to a more realistic test of the ability to identify and plan for hazards?

    It is my experience that many young drivers are very good at perceiving the hazard, but poor at developing a safe reaction to it. It is only natural that this is the case, because they lack the bank of experiences that older drivers possess.

    David, Suffolk
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