ICBC Hazard Perception Ideas
What is this hazard perception thing?
“Hazard perception” is an official thing that people get marked on when they go for the ICBC road test. Depending on the road test (class 5 or 7), drivers will do this either when driving or when stopped. It’s a kind of simple test to ensure that a driver is thinking and aware of potential hazards that may be lurking around their vehicle.
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Jump to a section:
- Hazard Perception Question
- Hazard Perception Summary
- For the Road Test – Stopped or When Driving
- Hazard Perception Example Words & Phrases
- Hazard Perception Infographic
- My experience
Hazard Perception on the ICBC Road Rest
Hazard Perception Question from Taylor:
“Apart from the hazards listed above what else could there be on a residential street? I was sure I listed five that I thought was reasonable, but apparently I got one right. Is there stock answers that examiners want to hear?“
ICBC Hazard Perception On Your Road Test
No stock answers…
I don’t think there are ‘stock answers’ they are expecting, since every driving environment is different, if even at the same location at a different moment.
Obvious or not so…
I know the hazard perception can seem not-natural, and people think that most hazards will be obvious, and that you will be able to react when necessary.
But it seems the only good idea is to be always aware of the not-so-obvious hazards as well, so that you don’t have to wait until something jumps in front of you and then react. (Active vs. passive driver, insanely important.)
It is good to be proactive drivers, thinking all the time about possible problems.
Examples of hazards
So, this could include anything, really. Things that you can see like:
- The obvious children in a playground zone
- Pedestrians walking or about to cross in a crosswalk,
- Things that you can’t see
- Vision blocked by parked cars, shrubs/bushes/trees, hills, curves
- A car could be backing out of a driveway surrounded by thick shrubs
- Weather like slippery conditions, or the bright glare of the sun making it hard for you to see or for those who are facing you (oncoming traffic may be blinded), etc.
Potential hazards around you…
Even if it seems there’s nothing going on around you, there probably are still potential hazards.
This is true even if nothing seems to be going on right now. This moment is only this moment. And personally, I find moments to be somewhat like snowflakes; no two are the same. (I know, I got deep there, eh?)
Hazards are not just on busy roads
Personally, I’ve encountered a lot of things on a very innocent-looking residential street. All kinds of hazards could present themselves.
- A kid’s ball could roll into the road with the kid still chasing it
- People walking around between parked cars
- Pets like dogs could be running around
- Parked cars could suddenly move
- Car door suddenly opens
- There could be a hidden stop sign
- There could be a small animal like squirrel or even raccoon or skunk running into the road
All of the above at the same time, while torrential raining on Halloween at midnight.
Not about memorizing
Like the rest of driving, it’s not about memorizing things. Rather, just looking at what you actually see and identifying what could turn into a hazard for you in that moment or a moment coming quickly.
The sky is probably not going to fall, and neither is that house going to implode, but other than what, if you look around you will see all kinds of potential problems.
Cars are moving things, going places
(I know.. my brain just exploded)
Just look around (your eyes should always be moving anyways, right?) and imagine what other types of ‘things’ may be potentially moving towards the same space… at the same time… as you, and what state they are in.
Everyone nowadays seems to be moving towards this thing about not judging one another. But in driving, we have to. Judge everything. I give you permission. It’s really simple, really, a crucial skill to have, actually, and humans are naturally good at it, so that’s a bonus.
Are they focused? Drunk or impaired? Elderly or very young? Distracted? Asleep? Crying? Yelling? Looking for an address? Checking their email? Looking into the back seat at their child? Checking out an interesting pedestrian instead of watching the road? Brushing their teeth? Just robbed a bank? (see below) …
ICBC Hazard Perception Example Words & Phrases
Here are some common words you may need to use when describing hazards. These are just a few examples. Keep reading to the bottom for the crazier ones.
- Car / Cars / Van / Minivan
- Bus / Truck / Ambulance
- Too close / Not Enough Space
- Pedestrians / People / Humans
- Speed Bump / Speed Hump
- Can’t see / Vision Blocked
- Bicyclist / Bike / Biker
- Children / Kids
- Animal / Dog / Cat / Squirrel / Duck / Chicken / Turkey *My sister lived in the Yukon for many years, and always told me about these small, brown rodents that used to always run in front of her vehicle on the highway. She called them “running poos”
- Wet road / Snow / Ice / Dew
- Curve in the Road
- Warning sign / Yellow Road Sign
- Dangerous driver / Car Speeding
- Rough pavement / Bumpy Road
- Turning right / Turning Left / U-Turn
- Pulling out
- Ice / Black Ice Possibility
- Blind Spot / Blind Zone / Blind Area
- Motorcyclist / Skateboarder / E-Bike
- Turning left
For The Road Test – Hazard Perception While Stopped Or Driving
For the Class 7 Road Test (to get your N): You’ll be required to do this hazard perception while stopped/parked. Make sure to put your car into park (or a gear) and use the parking brake for any kind of pulling over or stopping like this.
For the Class 5 Road Test (to get your full license): You’ll be required to do this hazard perception while driving. I suppose that means you’re supposed to be able to think, drive, and talk, all at the same time, by then.
Driving Hazard Perception & Awareness For Real Life…
For real life, you’ll be required to do this hazard perception while driving at all times… I know, it’s just madness.
Hazard Perception Infographic
To an experienced driver, this whole hazard perception thing may seem strange. Obviously we all have eyes and we can all see obvious hazards while we are driving.
However, new drivers do need to be taught to be aware of hazards of all kinds; whether it be the ones they can see or the ones that they can not see. This includes ones that we aren’t sure exist (How do we know anything really exists, though, when you think about it?)
It’s important to get into the habit of actively thinking and looking for potential hazards while driving, rather than simply driving along enjoying the scenery and then being unprepared when there is a “surprise.” Surprises are gifts for passive, lazy drivers.
This hazard perception stuff is all part of being a good ole everyday safe and defensive driver… not just some silly random weird thingy that you have to practice and memorize in order to pass an (honestly) silly road test that you are gonna do once or twice in your entire lifetime, and then drive 9 trillion more miles or so (kilometers yeah) on your own. Just sayin’… / end of random rant.
In my experience…
Personally, I’ve seen all kinds of crazy hazards over the years I’ve been driving, including…
- Sideways garbage cans flying in front of my car in a windstorm (like, literally)
- A full sized ladder laying in the middle of the Ironworker’s Second Narrows bridge in the middle lane
- A train crossing in front of me in the dark that had absolutely no lights, no warning lights or stop sign of any kind
- Driving through lightning
- Driving through a white-out
- Driving on a road where a car had just crashed into a fire hydrant, water shooting up into the air as high as the Eifel Tower, the roadway quickly turning into an Olympic sized swimming pool but without all the proper and fancy lanes and flags and stuff
- Cars driving the wrong way down the road coming towards me (two-way streets and also one-way streets, especially in downtown Vancouver)
- Tiny trick-or-treaters running across the road in a dark rain storm on a full moon on Halloween
- One time I was driving down the freeway at 100 km/hr and a bird ran into the side of my car. Kind of like how they sometimes run into glass windows when they’re flying. Nothing bad happened to me (can’t speak for the bird) but it freaked me out. A slight distraction
- A horse crossing a busy street in rush hour in North Vancouver in a crosswalk
- Three people wearing all black clothing, standing in the middle of the road with no divider (as in, they were standing basically on the yellow line) on the darkest road in the world (no street lights of any kind) and it was a massive rain storm. I drove right past them and saw them when they were standing right beside me. Freakiest thing I’ve ever seen while driving (unless those were ghosts)
- One time on a driving lesson, my student was turning left at Hastings and Gilmore. It was busy traffic. I quickly realized that the bank on the corner was actively being robbed, and cops were chasing the bad guy out of the parking lot with their vehicles. I was so proud my student still focused on what she needed to do to safely turn left. I almost cried because I was so proud that she had not even noticed the bank robbery and police chase going the other direction, in progress. She completed her left turn as safe as could be. It was amazing. Lesson learned: bank robberies can be distracting when you are driving. Focus is always needed.
- I’ll admit something that I’m not proud of – I once ran over a squirrel. Not on purpose :(. I’m sorry squirrley…
I also once ran over a soccer ball that came flying out of a field and landed directly in front of my tire with no time to react. The kids looked so lost and hopeless that I had been so evil! They were now ball-less. And that’s just what happens sometimes.
The thing about student drivers and birds and squirrels is that they don’t go together very well. Lots of student drivers want to stop for birds and squirrels and other small animals.
This is okay maybe if there’s no other road users behind you. But what about when there is? People have actually lost their lives because of stuff like this. I can remember a story of a woman stopping her car on a highway to help some ducks. And it did not end well for the souls coming next. It turned into charges of criminal negligence and dangerous driving causing death.
So we really do need to think about the “big picture” when driving. Is it worth slamming on the brakes for a squirrel when there may be a semi truck behind you, that I can almost guarantee might be physically unable to stop in the same distance as you?
We need to think about all these things, and not just from our own, selfish perspective (Stopping for a squirrel can be seen as a self-serving act, one that, when you think about it, avoids the bad feelings of having not stopped for it). Remember that cars have horns, and this can be a much better alternative. Most small animals will run out of your way.
We are talking about human lives and the lives of squirrels or other small animals. Unfortunately, there may be a time when you may have to pick one. And it’s good to prepare for these moments ahead of time whenever possible. Sometimes the correct choice in life is the lesser of two evils, and that’s just how it is.
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