Is the Hazard Perception Test failing?
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Yes – Guy Lawrence – Underwriting Director, LV= Direct Business
The hazard perception test is an important tool to help prepare new drivers for life on the road. However, our research has shown that the test, in its current form, isn’t achieving that purpose. We found that over half (53%) of newly qualified drivers say the current hazard perception test is out of date and in need of modernisation. This comes as no surprise as the test was introduced over 15 years ago. Since then, the hazards people are experiencing on the road have changed. While the current test includes hazards such as cyclists, cars turning ahead and horse riders, it doesn’t include many of the top ‘modern’ hazards that today’s drivers are faced with. New drivers told us that the most common ‘modern’ hazards they encounter are potholes (reported by 41% of new drivers), pedestrians on mobile phones (reported by 33%), and children on scooters (reported by 21%) – none of which appear on the current hazard perception test. Worryingly, this has meant that nearly half (47%) of new drivers say the hazard perception test didn’t prepare them for life on the road. 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.
No – Dr Shaun Helman – Chief Scientist, Transport Research Laboratory
We have data on how the hazard perception test has helped road safety in the UK. Let’s wind back 20 years – the applied laboratory research at TRL and elsewhere was established by the late 1990s in response to indications that hazard perception skill was the one and only driving-related skill that showed a firm link to collision risk. The test’s introduction in 2002 was accompanied by around an 11% drop in the kinds of on-road collisions to which it would be expected to apply (see the Cohort II study). People who score higher on the UK test have fewer collisions post-test (data from an Australian test, using state-recorded collisions rather than self-reports, also show this). Is the test perfect? Almost certainly not – it is a compromise in terms of response mode, views available, and hazards tested. Can the test be modernised? Probably. Should it be? Only if accompanied by proper research to ensure that the new test does what the old one does. Bluntly, it is more important that the test blocks access to driving for those drivers who lack sufficient hazard perception skill, than appeals to the masses. The current test achieves the former, even if it does not achieve the latter.