About a month before I went to New York I started learning to drive, except for my dumpster incident, I have been getting better and better and my driving instructor was pretty impressed with me today.
In order to pass your drivers test and get a full license in the UK, you have to take not only the “written” (or theory) and practical tests, but also a ‘Hazard Perception’ test which is part of the written test. Its all done on a computer, first you are asked 35 questions about driving law and how to operate and maintain your car and then you get a 3 minute break before the next part.
The Hazard Perception test consists of a series of 14 video clips shot from a camera mounted on a car, you assume the role of the person driving the car and you have to click the mouse when you see a “developing hazard”. There is a countdown system, if you click your mouse when the hazard first appears then you get 5 points, for each second later you loose 1 point, unless you get zero points if you would have caused an accident because you didn’t react. You have to get 44 points out of a possible 75, 13 of the clips contain one hazard, one contains two.
Because this is fairly difficult to explain, I have uploaded a video clip from the training CD I have. This is not an official government video, so its not as good a quality as those used in the actual test, but it gives you an idea of what its like.
Watch the video at YouTube by clicking here.
I think its fairly easy to spot the hazard there – the kid drops something in the road, but doesn’t look before he runs out and grabs it. Every drivers worst nightmare, but you can see that this does have a positive effect – those people who cannot pass this test, can’t get a drivers license.
The UK is, as far as I know, the only country in the world that currently does this. It has been a requirement for about 4 years now, but weather it has succeeded in lowering the number of deaths on the road, I don’t know.
So, now that I have passed the theory and hazard perception tests, I can continue to take lessons and get my driving up to a standard where I can take the practical test. I’ll keep you posted on how it goes!