How a driving simulator can improve driver training

Driver training differs substantially between countries. In some countries:

  • There’s a tradition of licenced driving schools, while other countries allow parents to teach their children how to drive.
  • Training of traffic interactions and handling complex traffic situations is emphasized, while in other countries learning to drive only focusses on vehicle control (start car, use gear shifter, etc).
  • A learner driver needs at least 40 to 60 hours of lessons by driving schools in full traffic before they can apply for a driving test. In other countries, parents teach their children how to control a car and then they can apply for a drivers permit.
  • Learner drivers spent a large number of hours behind the wheel during driver training, but they only are permitted to drive on a closed course and never experience interactions with other traffic during driver training. So, when they enter public roads after having obtained their licence, they do know how to control the car, while they have no traffic experience at all. This results in a large number of traffic fatalities.

Factors in driver training

Yet, research has been unable to find which type of driver training gives the best results. In addition to immaturity and impairment, lack of driving experience in various driving tasks is probably the main reason for the over representation of young drivers in the accident statistics.

In a good driver training program, young drivers get as much driving experience as possible. This factor is probably more important than other factors in the driver training program. During driver training, it is important that student drivers get as much driving experience as possible in all relevant traffic situations. Lack of driving experience is probably the main reason for the majority of young drivers in the accident statistics. A good driver training program lets young drivers get as much experience as possible.

If those important safety-relevant skills are learnt during the period of formal driver training instead of after, by having the student encounter more relevant traffic situations, and thus get more driving experience, then driver training would improve considerably.

How can a driving simulator help to improve driver training programs ?

Most driving simulators simply replicate traditional training programs and it can be argued then that a driving simulator adds little to driver training. However, some simulators, such as, the driving research simulator really add something new to the process of learning to drive: in a short period of time a large number of relevant traffic situations are trained and evaluated. Driving simulators can improve the quality of driver training programs by adding more training experience in less time. A better quality of driver training system will improve traffic safety and reduce injuries and casualties from traffic accidents.

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