Error parsing XSLT file: \xslt\FacebookOpenGraph.xslt Graham Hurdle's blog: 9 July 2013 - Hazard perception: the fleet manager's solution to rising accident costs
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Graham Hurdle's blog: 9 July 2013 - Hazard perception: the fleet manager's solution to rising accident costs

Date: 09 July 2013

Graham Hurdle is managing director of E-Training World

Ask any driver what hazard perception is and they'll probably say 'the ability to spot hazards'.

But what is a hazard? It can be fixed, such as a junction or the bend or brow of a hill.

Or it can result from the movement, or potential movement, of other road users - such as a vehicle, pedestrian, animal etc.

So a hazard comes in many forms, but what is hazard perception?

Learner drivers have to pass the hazard perception part of the theory test, or at least that's what the Driving Standards Agency calls it.

Personally I would refer to it as a hazard recognition test, because it asks you to identify a "developing hazard".

This could be a vehicle emerging from a junction that requires the driver to change speed or direction.

The theory test system works with a timed scoring zone, the sooner the person taking the test clicks to say they have identified the developing hazard, the more they will score.

If they click too soon, they won't score anything, as they would have clicked outside the scoring zone.

In my book, people who have clicked too early have been penalised for cleverly perceiving the hazard before it develops. In reality, they would be giving themselves more time to respond to the emerging danger.

So why am I scrutinising this topic? Quite simply, because when it comes to perceiving hazards as early as possible, money and lives are involved for company vehicle drivers.

The difference between hazard perception and hazard recognition can be seconds, yet we all know it only takes a moment to have an accident, so a few seconds extra to take action can be enough to avert an incident.

If drivers spot the clues to hazards then they have time to react, simply coming off the accelerator and hovering over the brake pedal will save about a second, and at 40mph that will give the driver approximately 60 feet of extra braking.

So, for any fleet manager that doesn't focus on hazard perception I would urge you to do so. The advantages?

Less accidents, less cost, less injury, less driver downtime, fewer hire cars, less paperwork, more productive staff and lower insurance premiums. Need I say more?

Yet if we are serious about improving driving standards, we should at least agree on the basics.

After all, how can we expect the average driver to improve when they get mixed messages from the so called experts?