Hazard perception skills are always important. In some situations, hazard perception skills are vital for your and others’ safety.
Coping with these situations
The following situations do not require any new hazard perception skills - scanning for hazards, keeping a safe distance and selecting safe gaps still apply. You have the options of slowing down, stopping or changing direction to cope with hazards.
Pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists
Vulnerable road users (they have little protection during a collision) = pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists. They are harder to see so scan for them carefully.
Pedestrians can behave unexpectedly, unsafely and illegally. They are harder to see and may be alcohol-affected. Children are at risk as they do not think like adults. Older people are also particularly vulnerable as although they have experience and sense, they are not as agile or alert. When approaching or passing pedestrians or areas where you would expect pedestrians slow down and give them space. Try to make eye contact with them to ensure you’ve been seen and, if not, sound your horn.
Cyclists travel on roads, footpaths, and bike paths/lanes (though they often move between them), cycle without lights at night making them harder to see and may ride against traffic and through red lights making them unpredictable. Only children under 12 and supervising adults can ride on footpaths. But kids ride on the road and adults on the footpath, so you need to keep your eyes open, give cyclists space and slow down when necessary. Cyclists are slow at intersections and when making turns.
Motorcycles are small, can hide behind other vehicles, accelerate quickly and swerve lane-to-lane making them hard to see and unpredictable. They can be hidden in blind spots making head checks vital. Most common collisions are a turning vehicle hitting a motorcycle and a vehicle going straight hitting a turning motorcycle, with the vehicle not giving way in both situations – so scan carefully when selecting gaps.
Trucks and buses
Heavy vehicles such as trucks and buses are usually easier to see but can hide other road users. When following a bus or truck increase your gap so you can see around it. Maintain a larger gap to a following truck or bus to provide them more time and space to brake, as you will likely come off second best in a collision.
Heavy vehicles take up more road and need more room to turn so give them plenty, particularly when they are turning or braking. Truck and bus drivers rely on their outside mirrors to see. If you can’t see their mirrors, they can’t see you - so don’t drive in their blind spots. Remember it takes longer to overtake a truck or bus.
Roadworks slow your journey and can be dangerous for drivers and road workers near the road because of the heavy machinery, rough surfaces and lack of markings. This danger increases when drivers ignore signs for roadworks and roadwork speed limits, giving them little time or space to detect and react to hazards and resulting in vehicle occupant and road worker deaths and injuries every year in NSW. Roadwork signs are placed well in advance of work sites, so drivers can slow down and get into the correct lane. Obey roadwork signs and speed limits, even if others ignore them.
Crashes and breakdowns
Traffic slows or stops around places where vehicles are broken down or where crashes have occurred. Scan effectively to give yourself time to slow down and position your car to get around the obstacle safely. If you need or want to help, make sure that you stop somewhere safe to ensure you’re not involved in a crash.
Scanning is important in detecting emergency vehicles because they can appear from unexpected places (e.g. approaching on the wrong side of the road at high speed). If you think you can hear a siren, turn off the radio/stereo and wind down the window/s to listen (and to help locate the emergency vehicle).
Animals on the road
Animals can be hard to see and even more unpredictable than humans. Scanning (including the sides of the road) is the first hazard perception skill to avoid a collision with an animal. Slow down in areas you are likely to encounter animals so you can spot and avoid them. You may not spot an animal in time to avoid it - so remember that the safety of humans takes priority. Stop or avoid the animal if you can do so safely, but it may be necessary to hit the animal or steer round the animal to avoid a collision involving people.
Key points summary
- Hazard perception is particularly important around unprotected road users, large vehicles, road works, emergency vehicles and animals
- Use the scanning routine to cope with these hazards and keep a safe distance from other road users
- Give yourself plenty of time and space
Continue reading the Hazard Perception Handbook Summary:
7. Important Situations
Check out the other resources available to help you pass the Hazard Perception Test so you can take the Practical Driving Test: