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Identifying hazards when driving

Spotting a hazard in time to take suitable evasive action and avoid a crash is an essential part of safe driving.

It's important to learn how to recognise and avoid hazards while driving to improve road safety for yourself and other road users.

A hazard can be any possible source of danger on or near the road that could lead to a crash, and it can come from any direction. It could be a:

  • child chasing a ball onto the road
  • parked car door opening
  • vehicle merging into your lane or stopping suddenly in front of you
  • slippery road surface after rain.

As drivers gain experience they develop skills in scanning the road ahead and around them, and they become better at recognising that a potentially dangerous situation is developing. This early detection gives them more time to make a decision about the hazard and respond to it appropriately.

View the short videos showing real life driving situations. An experienced commentator points out potential hazards facing drivers and suggests ways that drivers could respond safely.

Links to identifying hazards when driving videos

Identifying hazards when driving through business areas

Business areas - video 1

Identifying hazards in business areas - video 1

Video transcript

Very busy area. Lots of pedestrians, lots of vehicle movements.

Watching for pedestrians up on the footpath on the left.

Scanning ahead, car changing lanes in front of us.

Watching on both sides. Pedestrians on both sides.

Traffic lights up ahead. Pedestrian walking down the road on our left.

Vehicle indicating through the intersection may pull out.

Checking the intersection. Checking the lights. Vehicle is pulling out.

Dealing with that.

Pedestrians. Road works up ahead.

Workman. Van on the left.

Watching the van, keeping an eye on that. Vehicles passing us on the right.

Again pedestrians on the left. Traffic lights up ahead.

Traffic lights again ahead. Workman at the back of a vehicle.

Vehicles indicating. Brake lights.

Business areas - video 2

Identifying hazards in business areas - video 2

Video transcript

Braking in front. Truck approaching. Car pulling out. May be a conflict here.

Car indicating to turn right.

Watch where that car goes. Car indicating to turn across our path.

Car pulling out. Pedestrians on the side. Bus approaching. Pedestrian crossing.

Road narrows up ahead.

Dealing with the vehicles coming towards us. Being careful.

Roads becomes divided.

Checking again the footpath.

Allowing for children that might ride out/step out.

Looking through the corner. Vehicle turning across our path entering a driveway.

Person waiting at a bus stop. Looking over the crest of the hill. Car approaching.

Allowing for cars that may pull out.

Built up area.

Many car dealerships, could be many pedestrians.

Multi-lane road. Looking through the corner. Green light ahead. Car reversing out.

Watching the vehicles in front, they may turn across our path.

One car across, two cars across,

another car suddenly jumping across. Car entering on the left.

Scanning the footpath. Many parked cars.

Many potential hazards.

Brake lights up ahead.

Scanning both sides of the road.

Big truck in front, obstructing our vision of forward traffic.

Business areas - video 3

Identifying hazards in business areas - video 3

Video transcript

Entering intersection, through green light.

Car may turn, car is crossing our path. Pedestrians on the left.

Cyclist on the footpath on the left. Going over the crest of a hill.

Trying to read the road underneath the car in front.

Looking through the rear window. Car braking in front.

Entering intersection.

Car turning on our left. Cars approaching. Cars changing lanes.

Car may enter on our left; yes it does.

Cars waiting to turn right. Car entering our lane.

Many parked cars on our left. Following a car down hill.

Car may turn.

Car approaching on our right.

Many large vehicles on our left. Vision is obscured there.

Road on our left, road on our right.

Again many cars parked. Watching for pedestrians.

Trying to look through the car in front or under the car in front.

Allowing for the car turning left in front.

Crest of the hill, looking down the hill. Scanning both sides of the road.

Parked vehicles, many shadows.

Business areas - video 4

Identifying hazards in business areas - video 4

Video transcript

Through the corner, following a van, built up area, many things going on.

A lot to scan, scanning right.

Checking amongst the parked cars. Van waiting to pull out.

Looking down the hill, pedestrians on our right.

Another car waiting to pull out.

Pedestrian crossing in front of us, allowing for that.

Pedestrian on our left, mother with child down below.

Car turning left in front. Traffic lights.

Pedestrian on our left. Cars stopping in front.

Car indicating to turn left. Car stopped in front.

Car waiting to enter on our left. Pedestrian up ahead.

Taxi waiting to cross our path.

Many hazards, taking it easy.

Pedestrian crossing the road in front.

Many parked cars, looking through the corner.

Scanning both sides of the road, looking for the next hazard.

Identifying hazards when driving through roadworks

Roadworks video

Identifying hazards at roadworks

Video transcript

Following workman’s utility up the hill. Left lane appears to be ending.

Pedestrian on the footpath on the left. Coming up to the crest of the hill.

Vehicle suddenly approaching on the left, wants to come across.

Checking over the crest of the hill.

Many vehicles ahead. Looking through the cars in front.

Lots of traffic markers. Car entering on the left.

Vehicle waiting to turn across our path. Looking through the corner.

Pedestrians on the footpath.

Workmen. Traffic cones.

Green light up ahead.

Vehicle suddenly turning across oncoming traffic.

Reading the traffic up ahead. Flashing light up ahead on the right.

Bus shelter on the left. Truck approaching.

Approaching a bridge.

Looking at the parked cars on the left. Looking for pedestrians.

Identifying hazards when driving through school zones

School zones video

Identifying hazards in school zones

Video transcript

Adult and child on the footpath. Car turning on our right.

Bus shelter up ahead.

Maintaining a safe following distance. Vehicles approaching.

Check intersection on the left.

Coming up a hill, our vision becomes obscured. Parked vehicles on the left.

Many shadows from trees, eyes need time to adjust. Entering into a school zone.

Checking both sides of the road.

Person getting out behind a car. Opening the boot.

May step out in front of us without thinking.

Car approaching. Another pedestrian.

Car waiting to pull out in front. Car parking on our left.

Car is trying to enter on our left. Car approaching.

Cars entering up ahead.

Many things to deal with, scanning both sides of the road.

Cars approaching.

Parked car. Open door.

Cars entering.

Identifying hazards when sharing the road with other road users

Sharing the road - video 1

Identifying hazard of other road users - video 1

Video transcript

Narrow road. Person opening the door.

Car parking. Pedestrian, may be conflict here.

Deal with the hazards.

Slow and steady.

Many parked cars.

Going over the crest of the hill. Vision's obscured.

Parked cars at the bottom. Telephone box.

Dual lane, one way road. Scanning the road well ahead.

Truck up ahead. Parked cars.

Checking on the footpath.

Road's turning right up ahead.

Car pulling out in front of us, yes it does.

Pedestrian in a bus stop.

Looking through the corner. Looking for potential hazards.

Sharing the road - video 2

Identifying hazard of other road users - video 2

Video transcript

Built up area. Cycle lane on our left.

Car entering on our right. Traffic lights are still green.

Road markings change here. Pedestrians crossing the road.

Green lane for cyclists.

Watching the green light. Pedestrian crossing ahead of us.

Vehicles stopped up ahead.

Entering into a bend. Scanning through the corner.

Looking amongst the shops.

Green lights.

Pedestrians crossing the road, still trying to cross the road.

Many pedestrians up ahead.

Parked cars, people may step out, their vision is obscured.

Scanning both sides of the road. Pedestrian crossing the road.

One car approaching.

Intersection on our right.

Pedestrian crossing.

Many parked vehicles. Another pedestrian crossing.

Car approaching on our right.

Scanning amongst the parked cars.

Covering the brakes.

Needing to stop here.

Sharing the road - video 3

Identifying hazard of other road users - video 3

Video transcript

Built up area. Cycle lane on our left.

Car entering on our right. Traffic lights are still green.

Road markings change here. Pedestrians crossing the road.

Green lane for cyclists.

Watching the green light. Pedestrian crossing ahead of us.

Vehicles stopped up ahead.

Entering into a bend. Scanning through the corner.

Looking amongst the shops.

Green lights.

Pedestrians crossing the road, still trying to cross the road.

Many pedestrians up ahead.

Parked cars, people may step out, their vision is obscured.

Scanning both sides of the road. Pedestrian crossing the road.

One car approaching.

Intersection on our right.

Pedestrian crossing.

Many parked vehicles. Another pedestrian crossing.

Car approaching on our right.

Scanning amongst the parked cars.

Covering the brakes.

Needing to stop here.

Sharing the road - video 4

Identifying hazard of other road users - video 4

Video transcript

Vehicles stopped on the right.

Car ahead indicating left, may be turning.

Scanning ahead, looking over the crest of the hill.

Car turning on the left. Approaching traffic.

More cars coming towards us.

Parked cars on the right. Checking amongst the trees.

Many shadows, another car approaching.

Checking the traffic lights ahead.

Closing rapidly on the car in front.

Checking over the crest of the hill. Bus shelter.

Car on the right, open door. Look for people.

Scanning through the corner. Looking amongst the trees.

Taxi approaching.

Pedestrians. Danger. Slow.

Get past the obstacle. Approaching vehicles.

Car approaching on the right. Vehicle turning out on the right.

Watch for danger.

Going through a dip, coming up the hill.

Parked cars on the right.

Again, scanning through the trees.

Many vehicles approaching from up ahead.

Parked vehicles as well. Checking the intersections.

Looking for vehicles pulling out.

Looking for pedestrians on the side.

Vehicles passing us on the right.

Again, parked vehicles on the right.

Approaching traffic island.

Identifying hazards when driving through suburban streets

Suburban streets - video 1

Identifying hazards on suburban streets - video 1

Video transcript

Entering into a dip. Pedestrians on the right, open doors.

Cars approaching downhill. Checking the intersection on the left.

Watching the parked cars. Looking in the shadows of the trees.

Watching at the intersection.

Coming up towards the crest of a hill.

Will be temporarily blinded over the crest of the hill.

Looking amongst the parked cars for pedestrians.

Cresting the hill, intersection there.

Lots of workmen suddenly on the left. Stepping out. Deal with that.

Lots of parked cars on either side.

Road on our right. Traffic lights up ahead.

Checking amongst the parked cars.

Traffic light changes green. Vehicles moving off.

Watching amongst the cars on our right.

Vehicles parked on the kerb to our left.

Pedestrian on the footpath on our left, walking dogs. Car approaching.

Another pedestrian on our left.

Car at the intersection on our right, may pull out. Car entering from the side road.

Car crossing our path. Traffic lights.

May be stopping, stopping, hold position.

Suburban streets - video 2

Identifying hazards on suburban streets - video 2

Video transcript

Coming downhill. Look through the corner.

Scanning for potential hazards.

Parked car.

Pedestrians on the footpath on the right. Cyclist on the right.

Checking the road ahead. Checking on the footpath.

Checking the intersections.

Car approaching. Parked cars.

Car may pull out.

Person crossing the road. May step back in front.

Looking through the corner.

Scan well ahead, look amongst the parked cars. Pedestrian on our right.

Looking up the hill, again parked cars.

Looking on the footpaths, scanning between the cars. Pedestrian on our right.

Car approaching.

Cars parked on our left.

Looking through the corner.

Pedestrian on the footpath.

Fifty kilometres an hour suburban street.

Parked cars on both sides. Checking the footpath.

Looking over the crest of the hill. Vehicles approaching.

Vehicle pulling out.

Traffic island. Check the intersection on our left.

Motorcyclist arriving, pulling out. Pedestrian crossing.

Intersections on both sides. Checking that.

Checking the parked cars. Workman probably on the right.

Looking up the hill. No vehicles approaching.

Checking the side roads.

Suburban streets - video 3

Identifying hazards on suburban streets - video 3

Video transcript

Cresting the hill.

Pedestrian crossing sign. Pedestrian crossing.

Traffic bollards.

Looking amongst the parked cars. Pedestrians on the right.

Road on our left. Pedestrian may step out.

Many parked cars.

Car pulling out on the right up ahead. Parked cars ahead on our left.

Car crossing ahead. Other vehicles entering on our right.

Checking those vehicles.

Checking the intersection blocked on our left.

Car pausing on the right.

Vehicle turning across our path up ahead.

Intersection at the bottom of the hill. Cars entering this intersection.

Traffic islands, traffic lights, pedestrian on the footpath up ahead.

Traffic lights still red.

Suburban streets - video 4

Identifying hazards on suburban streets - video 4

Video transcript

Through the intersection.

Looking through the rear windscreen of the vehicle in front for brake lights.

Vehicles changing lanes up ahead. Turning, vehicles approaching.

Check the intersection on the right.

Looking through the trees up ahead. Vehicle pulling out.

No vehicles passing us on the left. Cars approaching.

Looking through the corner. Checking for pedestrians.

Tractor on the right. Vehicles passing that may cross the centre line.

Vehicle changing lanes on our left.

Parked car on our right. Vehicle approaching.

Vehicle ducking in front of us. It may go back into the other lane.

Vehicles approaching. Checking for pedestrians on the footpath.

Green light still - may change.

Looks like a more built-up area up ahead.

Cars approaching. Brake lights on the vehicle in front.

Looking for an out.

Vehicle may be turning opposite directions in front of us.

Vehicle slowing. Green lights up ahead.

Identifying hazards when driving as night is approaching

Driving as night is approaching video

Identifying hazards at night

Video transcript

Following the car downhill. Signs up ahead.

Pedestrians wanting to cross the road. Check them.

They may still cross the road.

Cars pulling out on our left.

Car waiting to turn right. May duck across in front.

Car approaching. Car waiting to pull out.

Car turning left. The car still may pull out on the left.

Slowing, watching for oncoming traffic. Car still may pull out.

Getting past that car. Cyclist up ahead.

Watching for anything the cyclist must suddenly avoid.

Cyclist may enter our lane.

Looking over the crest of the hill.

Watching for oncoming traffic.

Multilane carriageway. Person crossing the road up in front.

Watching the car changing lanes in front of us, dealing with that.

Speed sign.

Looking over the crest of the hill.

Parked cars below.

Maintaining a safe following distance.

Intersection and bus stop on our left.

One way road. Two lanes in the one direction.

No one on our right lane. May be an out we need.

Road on the left. Car entering on our right.

Car crossing the bridge. Darkness, eyes need time to adjust.

Last updated
20 September 2016