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Theory Test Topics Explained: Hazard Awareness

Happy New Year, PassMeFast readers! If your New Year’s resolution was to finally pass the theory test, or improve your overall driving knowledge, you’re in luck. We’re back with our latest instalment in the Theory Test Topics Explained series. This January, we’re concentrating on the fourth topic out of the fourteen used in the DVSA’s question bank: hazard awareness. We’ll explain what this topic is, include example questions and share with you some handy revision resources!


Table of contents: 


Theory Test Topic: Hazard awareness

What is hazard awareness

The fourth topic from the multiple-choice section of the theory test is hazard awareness. As with many of the theory test topics, it’s rather straightforward to grasp. Hazards are things on the road that can force you to slow down, change your direction or come to a stop. It’s important that you’re able to identify these hazards early on so that you can make your observations and reduce your speed accordingly.

To help you get to grips with spotting hazards and recognising how you yourself can potentially be a hazard on the road, we’ve broken down the theory test topic hazard awareness into bite-sized sections below. Try to take your time when reading through the sections—you’ll need all the help you can get for our mock tests!

✓ Static hazards

As you can probably guess from the name, static hazards are hazards on the road that remain stationary. Though they’re not moving, they can still be dangerous if you’ve not spotted them quickly enough and adjusted your speed accordingly.

Parked vehicles

Wherever you drive, it’s likely that you’ll spot parked vehicles along the street. In most cases, they won’t be much of an issue. When it comes to narrow roads, however, things can get a bit more complicated. Trying to navigate around parked vehicles whilst facing oncoming traffic can be dangerous. If you’re in this situation, you’ll likely need to allow oncoming traffic to continue until there’s a gap big enough for you to continue on your way.

When navigating around parked vehicles, you should always leave plenty of room just in case the driver or passenger opens one of the doors—approximately one metre should do the trick.

Parked vehicles can also be a hazard to you when they’re parked illegally. If they’re right next to a junction or pedestrian crossing, for example, you’ll need to keep your eyes peeled for any pedestrians that might run or walk out from behind the parked vehicle.

Road maintenance

Another common static hazard that you might encounter when behind the wheel is road maintenance. When it comes to city centres, road works can seem pretty harmless—traffic is slow moving enough that you get plenty of warning and time to reduce your speed or change direction. When it comes to dual carriageways or motorways, however, it can get a bit more difficult.

As you’re travelling at high speeds on these roads, you need to keep your eyes peeled for any signs that indicate road works are in progress. You need plenty of time to reduce your speed and/or change lanes. If you need to do either, you can use your hazard warning lights to warn the road users behind you.

Junctions

Junctions on a whole can be pretty tricky to get to grips with. There are so many different types, ranging from roundabouts to crossroads, which can seem quite intimidating to beginners. Once you’ve built up some experience with these junctions, they are, for the most part, pretty straightforward. The ones that you need to keep an eye out for are closed junctions.

These junctions are hazardous because they give drivers a very limited view of the road ahead—due to obstructions such as trees or parked vehicles. It can make it very difficult to figure out if it’s clear for you to emerge onto the road ahead. In this scenario, you should slowly creep forwards until you can see if it’s clear enough to emerge. Make sure you also check your blindspots just in case there are any cyclists beside you.

✓ Moving hazards

Moving hazards can oftentimes be more dangerous than static hazards simply because they’re so unpredictable. For the most part, you’ll be able to spot static hazards from far away. Moving hazards, by comparison, can seemingly come out of nowhere. That’s why it’s important that you keep your eyes peeled for the below hazards…

Pedestrians

Unsurprisingly, pedestrians are one of the most common moving hazards that you’ll encounter on the road. For the most part, many will follow the rules of the road and only use pedestrian crossings to cross the road. When this happens, you’ll need to be patient, even if they’re taking their time. There are some pedestrians, however, who will eschew crossings completely and just dart out whenever they see a slight gap. It’s for this reason that you should always keep your eyes peeled, especially in city centres.

Cyclists

As with pedestrians, you need to keep your eye out for cyclists. If you’re not making your observations frequently enough, one might come up from your side as you’re turning left—resulting in a collision. Given that cyclists are vulnerable road users, it’s important that you’re aware of them and also take action to keep them safe. If you’re driving near a cyclist, give them plenty of space so that if they end up swerving (to avoid a pothole or due to heavy wind) they don’t collide with you.

Looking for more information? Read our handy guide covering how to deal with cyclists safely.

Motorcyclists

Much like cyclists, motorcyclists are vulnerable road users. They don’t have the added protection that a car has, so you need to be aware of them at all times. They can be difficult to see, especially when weaving in and out of traffic, which means you need to check your mirrors frequently before making a turn or changing lanes.

Large vehicles

In general, you should always be careful when driving near large vehicles. Due to their size, it can be difficult for them to spot you in their mirrors if you’re following too closely. Additionally, large vehicles tend to need more room when they’re turning, occasionally driving in the centre of the road, so keep your distance.

If you spot a bus signalling to move out from a bus stop, you should stop and allow them to pass. You’ll want to look out for any passengers that might have exited the bus with the intent to cross the road.

Animals

The last moving hazard on our list is animals. What makes them so hazardous, you ask? Well, animals are hard to predict. Your actions on the road could scare them off or intimidate them enough to bolt into the path of your vehicle. This is why it’s a good idea to give animals a wide berth and be prepared to stop if necessary. If you’re travelling on country roads, for example, you should keep your speed down and stay focused.

You can find more information about what you should do when you see animals on the road, along with what the law says, in our guide to driving past animals.

✓ Weather conditions

As a driver, it’s your responsibility to stay aware of changes in weather conditions and adapt your driving style accordingly. Rain, snow and ice can cause your stopping distance to increase. This means that you should leave extra space between you and the vehicles in front and also be prepared to slow down, especially on bends.

If visibility is reduced on the road ahead due to fog, you should also slow down and stay alert. You’ll also want to switch on your dipped headlights to ensure that other drivers can see you. You should only use fog lights if you can’t see more than 100 metres ahead.

In winter, you should always make sure to check the weather forecast before heading out. If you’re expecting heavy snow or ice in your area, you should avoid driving unless it’s absolutely essential.

✓ The driver as a hazard

It’s not just other road users that can be a hazard to you while on the road. You yourself could potentially be a hazard if you’re not careful. That’s why it’s important that you identify patterns of behaviour that could lead to you endangering not only yourself, but other road users while driving.

Tiredness

If you’re on the road and start to feel tired, you need to find a safe and legal place to stop and rest. If you carry on going, you run the risk of losing concentration and swerving your car. In the event that you can’t find a rest stop, you should wind your windows down to let in some fresh air, which should hopefully wake you up a bit.

If you’re planning on going on a road trip or a long journey, you should always fit in rest stops. Even a simple ten minute break every couple of hours could do wonders for your energy levels. The best way to do this is by consulting your sat nav—many models nowadays come with the ability to integrate rest stops into your planned routes.

Low concentration

It might seem like an exaggeration, but if you’re not concentrating properly when you’re behind the wheel, you could endanger the lives of everyone on the road with you. All it takes is a few seconds of spacing out and the damage could be catastrophic. Tiredness is but one of the many factors that could potentially lead to your concentration dwindling. Other factors include messing around with the radio, using your mobile phone and even looking at your sat nav map for too long.

Another thing that can mess with your concentration levels is road rage. If another driver does something that annoys you, e.g., not using their indicators properly, reacting to it and letting your emotions overwhelm you could cause you to miss something else on the road. Avoid giving in to road rage and remain calm on the road at all times.

To summarise here, you should keep distractions to a minimum when you’re driving. The best way to do this is by putting your phone in the glove box, setting up a pre-determined playlist and only glancing at your sat nav when absolutely necessary.

Drug- or drink-driving

As you’re probably aware, driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs can significantly affect your ability to drive. Either can make you lose control of your vehicle, give you a false sense of confidence, reduce your concentration and affect your reaction times.

Though you are allowed to drive as long as your blood alcohol level is below 8mg per 100ml, it’s always safer to avoid alcohol entirely if you’re planning on driving—there’s no telling what effect it might have on you. You should also be aware that certain medication can affect your ability to control your vehicle. That’s why, if you’re taking medication, you should check with your doctor to see whether your recommended dosage will have any effect on your driving.

If you’re caught driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, you could end up with a fine, driving ban and even prison time. You can find out more about this in our guide to everything you should know about driving under the influence.

Struggling to remember everything associated with hazard awareness? We’ve created a quick summary of the main rules you need to know about when it comes to the theory test topic hazard awareness.

Hazard awareness rules


Example questions featured image

Multiple-choice questions

Not had the chance to familiarise yourself with the format of the theory test just yet? If you don’t have the time to read through our guide on passing the theory test, we’ll give you a quick summary. The multiple-choice section of the theory test is made up of 50 questions in total. In order to pass this section, you’ll need a score of at least 43. To do this, we’d recommend revising each theory test topic until you feel like you know them inside and out.

To give you an idea of what you can expect if you were to get questions from the theory test topic hazard awareness in your actual theory test, we’ve created a quiz below. Good luck!

As long as you take the time to properly revise hazard awareness, you shouldn’t have much trouble with finding the right answers. After all, for the most part, hazard awareness is about choosing the safest course of action. Once you’ve read through the question and potential answers, you should automatically be able to cross off at least two of the answers.

Let us know how many questions you got right in the comment section below!

Case studies

In the past, the multiple-choice section would contain a written case study at the end. You would read the case study and then be asked to answer three questions. Now, you’ll be asked to watch a video and then answer three questions about it. In essence, it’s the same as a written case study—it’s just that you’re seeing it in real-life, as opposed to written down.

To help you get an idea of what kind of questions you could be asked in the video case study, we’ve compiled five example written case studies for the theory test topic hazard awareness. Good luck!

That wasn’t too hard, was it? As with the multiple-choice questions, it’s all about choosing the safest and most sensible course of action. Just remember that in your actual theory test, this case study will be shown as a video instead. So, watch the video, read the questions and answers carefully, and apply your hazard awareness knowledge to make the right choice.

Let us know how many questions you got right in the comment section below!


How to revise hazard awareness

Two stacks of books, one taller than the other, each with a car on top, floating in clouds

Congrats, PassMeFast readers! You should now be able to spot static and moving hazards, and also be aware of how a driver can become a hazard themselves. You’re that much closer to flying through your theory test and starting your driving journey! Before that happens though, you’ll want to put together a revision timetable. Then, make your way through as many quizzes and mock tests as possible.

To help you get started, we’ve compiled some hazard awareness tests below to see if you’ve truly grasped the topic:

If you’d rather not wait for our next instalment in the theory test topics explained series, you can revise the entire theory test with our ultimate theory test revision resources guide. It includes both free and paid content that will help you build upon your theory test knowledge and fully prepare you for your theory test.

Want to know what it’s actually like to revise for and pass the theory test? Check out my article on how I passed my theory test first time. In it, I’ve included how I went about revising, along with some handy tips and tricks. You can also get an idea of how the current pandemic has affected theory tests with Andy’s experience.


Haven’t had the chance to read our previous theory test topic instalments? Check them out below:

Don’t worry—we’ll be back with the next instalment in February, so stay tuned in to the PassMeFast blog. See you then!

By Bethany Hall

Whether you’re a learner or a pro driver, Bethany is here to help. From defensive driving to the Highway Code, she’ll tell you everything you need know about driving. If she’s not on the road, you’ll probably find Bethany with her head in a book or binge-watching the latest TV show.

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