Road Hazards Perception Guide for Teenagers and Young Drivers


Last updated on February 13th, 2019 at 12:30 pm

Teenage driving road hazard perception guide

This road hazards perception guide teaches learner drivers, teenagers and young drivers to detect and react to potential road hazards that occur while driving.

What is a road hazard?

A road hazard is any item or circumstances that may lead to an accident while the teenager is driving. Types of road hazards include:

  • pedestrians
  • cyclists
  • motorcyclists
  • animals or roadkills
  • rubbish or items left on the road
  • items falling off cars, utilities, trucks or lorries in front of your car
  • roadworks
  • broken-down vehicles
  • other cars entering or leaving the road

Drivers must be able to recognize and respond to road hazards by developing hazard perception skills.

Basic hazard perception skills

(a) Keep a safe distance from other vehicles

Maintain a crash avoidance space at the front, sides and rear of your car. The length of space required will depend on the speed and position of your car and the other vehicles surrounding your car.

The greater the speed, the bigger space that is required for the front of the car. A crash avoidance space is maintained by controlling speed in line with the vehicle in front of you.

A general rule is to maintain a 3 second space between your car and the vehicle in front of you.

(b) Select safe gap for turning, crossing traffic and changing lanes

A safe gap is a gap that allows you to turn, cross traffic, change lanes, overtake and so on without interfering or disrupting the crash avoidance space of the vehicles surrounding your car.

If the gap is not large enough, do not proceed but wait till it is safe. For example, do not proceed to turn into a lane if proceeding means that an oncoming vehicle on the lane must brake hard for you.

(c) Scanning for hazards

Scan for road hazards constantly when driving. Proper scanning means taking in the whole scene around your car as follows:

  • Scan the front of the car up to 12 seconds ahead
  • Use your car’s side and rear view mirrors effectively to scan for side and rear hazards every 8 seconds
  • Blind spots must be checked by turning your head and look out of the side windows

Pick up movements and changes while scanning, and remember to consciously spot stationary hazards on the road.

Hazard perception ‘See Think Do’ action plan

See or scan for road hazards e.g. see a pedestrian waiting at the side of a pedestrian crossing

Think about consequences and what might happen e.g. assume that the pedestrian will cross the road

Do something safe e.g. wait for the pedestrian to cross

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