Defining something that can be classed as a hazard whilst driving is something that you will do early on in your tuition and as a quick reminder, hazards are typically something that may cause you to chance speed, position or direction.

Hazards can also be caused by a variety of static road features, including junctions, speed bumps, road works etc, or by the actions of other road users or a combination of the two.

As your tuition progresses, we will begin to move the focus beyond the static type of hazard and towards the hazards which develop through the actions of other road users and those circumstances that can contribute to their hazardous behaviour, this process is known as ‘Hazard Perception’.

What is Hazard Perception?

Hazard perception in driving terms is essentially developing the ability to look for clues on and around the road to allow you to build a mental picture of what you believe may happen in the near future in order to anticipate the actions of other road users.

Whilst experience plays a critical role in building your hazard perception skills, the learning process can certainly be helped during your lessons by following the guidance of your instructor to help understand the factors that an experienced and qualified driver factors into their thought process when building a mental picture of what is likely to happen next.

What is Defensive Driving?

A common misconception regarding defensive driving is that the process relates to being negative and cautious when behind the wheel but this is certainly not the case.

Defensive driving is instead all about taking the steps needed to ensure that you have a suitable amount of time to react to events unfolding in front of you allowing you to keep your options open.

No matter how fast you believe your reactions times are, even the quickest reactions still take time to take effect.

The majority of people take at least two thirds of a second to apply the brakes which means you need to add an extra two car lengths at 30mph and 6 car lengths at 60mph to standard stopping distances.

To be fully effective at defensive driving, you will need to be proficient at:

  • Looking well ahead in order to perceive potential problems at the earliest possible stage.
  • Applying your hazard drill in plenty of time.
  • Ensuring you leave yourself plenty of space on the road.

The following video from explores this in further detail.