Until January 2015, the DVSA used real-world video clips in their hazard perception clips to test learner driver’s ability to spot hazards and to show situations including vulnerable road users in varying situations. Since then, the DVSA switched to the use of CGI hazard perception test clips as this enabled them to show scenarios that would be too difficult, dangerous, or impossible to film. Here we look at what the DVSA hoped to achieve by moving to CGI clips, and some of the issues arising from the change.

Why did the DVSA opt for CGI clips?

The decision to move to CGI hazard perception test clips was based on a number of assumptions by the DVSA:

  1. CGI Clips would be Contemporary – As the available video library is mostly several years old, they can appear dated both in terms of video content and quality. By moving to CGI clips the DVSA hoped to be able to regularly update the test in terms of content, as it would make it possible to remove old models of cars, obsolete adverts, and other background issues that contributed to clips feeling dated.
  2. CGI Clips would be Future Proof – Unlike with filmed video, CGI clips can be easily tweaked to ensure backgrounds, traffic, road signs, and video quality remain up to date over time.
  3. CGI Clips would make the impossible possible – As some of the example situations the DVSA hoped to include in the hazard perceptions clips are either impossible to set up or not possible to set up safely (such as clips including children, cyclists, trams or passing wildlife etc.), CGI could make the impossible possible.
  4. CGI Clips would be Cheaper & Safer – Since actually going out filming specific hazards on closed roads and hiring professional drivers in varied cars is expensive, protracted, risky, and complex to organise, the CGI option was preferred. CGI guarantees the DVSA meets their commitment to ensuring their activities are as near to risk-free as possible as computer-generated clips remove these concerns completely.

What are some of the Issues with the CGI hazard perception clips?

Whilst some of the DVSA’s assumptions hold elements of truth, there are a number of differences between the old and new clips that raise some concerns:

  1. Lacking in Detail – The CGI clips don’t contain as much detail, visual noise, potential hazards, or accuracy as normal video does.
  2. Vehicle Movement Accuracy Varies – Although CGI has come on in leaps and bounds, vehicle movement is not always 100% accurate. This means car movements related to acceleration (rising) or braking (dipping) may not come across in the clips.
  3. Pedestrian Movement Accuracy Varies – It is not easy to model realistic pedestrian movement, meaning many people’s movements will not look natural in the clips.
  4. Realism is Limited – As the detail is somewhat lacking and the images, such as road surfaces, trees, weather and depth of field, are all estimations, many of the scenes may not appear realistic.
  5. Animal Hazards are Rare – As animals are hard to create convincingly in CGI, they are rarely included in clips, reducing a major hazard’s presence in the clips.

Conclusion

Whilst some of the assumptions behind the move to CGI hazard perception test clips hold merit, the numerous issues illustrated show viewers will be fully aware they are watching a video clip, rather than believing it is a real-life video clip. This may be suitable for testing, however, if you want to truly gain skills training in hazard perception then watching real video clips filmed in moving vehicles and taking note when driving or as an alert passenger cannot be beaten.

CGI Hazard Perception Test Practice

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