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#1 18-06-05 10:53:07

Verified Member
Registered: 01-11-04
Posts: 193

Advice from DSA on HPT clicking and anti-cheat

Hi Everybody

I have recently been in correspondence with Gary Austin (Chief Executive) and Brian Gilhooley the operations director of the DSA concerning the points raised by an ADI student who activated the anti-cheat mechanism on the first 4 clips of his hazard perception test scoring 4 zeros. The student in question had clicked rapidly (i.e. about 4 or 5 times in a second or two) as he saw a potential hazard and as it developed in an attempt to ensure he got the start of the score window and thus score 5. He had clicked rapidly only once per clip. Although we could not see why the DSA would consider that clicking rapidly in under a second or two would constitute a plausible cheating method over a 60 second clip it was clear that this was the reason for the zero score.

Initially the student in question corresponded with the DSA in an attempt to get the DSA to confirm that the anti-cheat was right to do this and if so how could this clicking behaviour be considered as cheating. In other words how could the DSA justify this particularly as there was no warning on the HP test video tutorial (played at the start of the test) about rapid clicking? The replies that the student got did not answer the questions he raised quoting that the anti-cheat was a trade secret so they could not divulge anything that would help the student understand what it did otherwise it might help the student to cheat.

As a consequence, I wrote to Gary Austin and eventually received confirmation that a short burst of rapid clicks would indeed activate the anti-cheat mechanism even if the candidate did this just once within the clip as did the student in question. However, they were not prepared to state how many clicks would cause this to happen or at what speed. It was also stated in the letter I received that candidates are advised that rapid responses are not an appropriate way of indicating a developing or potential hazard on the video tutorial played before the HP test starts. I pointed out in a subsequent letter that this is not true. The HP video tutorial actually states, “click as soon as you spot a clue to any hazard and click again when the situation changes.” “Don’t try to cheat by pressing the mouse button without any thought to what you see. If you do you will be given this message, you will lose your score for that clip.”

I think the explanation I then received from Brian Gilhooley does help clarify what the DSA want you to do. Hence I have reproduced it below for the benefit of all ADI students.

“You said that you do not believe that rapid clicking should trigger the inappropriate response algorithm. As I have said before, trying to score the most points this way is missing the point of HPT. The tutorial video at the start of the test shows clearly single clicks being made calmly, not a short burst of rapid clicks. You have to accept that a short burst of clicks, rapid or otherwise is not an appropriate way to respond. The instruction is clear; click when you see a hazard, click again if you see it change.

It seems that you are caught on the difference between a hazard and a developing hazard. A hazard is something that might cause a driver to change direction or speed. A developing hazard is a situation that is changing. We want candidates to spot hazards during HPT, but we also want them to keep watching for when any hazard changes, and click again as they see this happen. Just before a candidate sees a developing hazard begin to develop, the scoring window opens, so a click made as soon as the hazard starts to develop on-screen will score the most points. In most cases what is happening to those who believe that they are clicking too early is that they are clicking on non-developing hazards and not clicking again as they see a situation develop. It is impossible to click too early. If the scoring window has not opened, the hazard has not yet begun to develop and so a click made at that time would be in response to something that had not yet happened.”

Basically it would seem that anything that deviates from the above will potentially be construed as cheating. Their argument for not allowing rapid clicking is presumably based on the belief that none of the hazards shown on the real test change rapidly or more than a few times as they develop and thus it is not necessary to click 4 or 5 times in a short space of time.

When driving in the real world we would expect you to react to potential hazards by commencing your hazard drill/MSM routine at this point. When the HP test was introduced ADI’s mistakenly assumed that it was at this point when you should click and this was the point of the HP test – to see if you spotted the potential none static hazards ahead (i.e. moving hazards involving other road users) preferable before the potential hazard started to materialise into an actual hazard. The point at which you would at least start to check your mirrors and consider if you should change speed or position just in case the hazard began to materialise. You may decide just to keep an eye on it for the time being.

However, since then it has become apparent that the DSA are more interested in your ability to detect the precise point at which a potential hazard becomes what the DSA term a “developing” hazard. This is the point at which they want you to click and this is the point at which you can score. Although we have argued that this precise point can in some instances be debatable the DSA are convinced it is clear-cut, as you can see from the quote above.

In the DSA's own HP test video tutorial played at the start of the test you can see two good examples of the point at which the DSA consider a potential hazard becomes a “developing” hazard. The first example is when you see a cyclist ahead and a parked lorry further down the road. Most experience drivers would recognise the problem that will be caused by the cyclist as he attempts to overtake the lorry with the oncoming traffic flow and the consequential need to slow down well before the score window opens and the potential hazard becomes a so-called DSA “developing” hazard. It only becomes a DSA “developing” hazard when the cyclist turned his head to look over his shoulder. Thus if you clicked just once before this point you would score zero. (This point was also recently made in the DIAs Driving Magazine). Similarly, when you see the front of a car appear from a driveway on the left you might immediately click but it is not until the driver moves forward more quickly that it becomes a DSA “developing”, scoring hazard. Fortunately learners do no have the problem of recognising such situations early, which is why they can sometimes score, better than an experienced driver on the HP test as it currently stands.

Having stated this if you clicked once when you saw the potential hazard and then clicked again each time the situation changes (i.e. anything that would give you additional clues to the fact that the hazard was truly materialising) you should be OK and although occasionally your first click might be too early the second or subsequent clicks should be close to where the DSA determine it has started to develop (as something would have needed to have changed before they would have determined that it had become a “developing” hazard). Please note in the majority of cases the point at which the hazard develops is clear-cut because it is also the point at which you would immediately recognise it as either a potential hazard or an actual hazard. Therefore there is no need to get overly concerned about the above – just don’t go clicking too rapidly or too often in a series when nothing has changed. Click as you think the potential hazard becomes apparent and at each point as the situation changes thus making it more likely that the hazard will materialise.

I appreciate that once a potential hazard starts to materialise into an actual hazard you could argue that the situation is continually changing and therefore you should keep clicking. However, we now know for a fact that such behaviour will be construed as cheating - so be selective when you click.

While we might not like the emphasis that the DSA have placed on the point of so called “development” combined with the overly sensitive anti-cheat the test does focus attention on the importance of hazard perception, which is a good thing.




18-06-05 10:53:07

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