Picture this: you’re half an hour late for work, the traffic is awful, it’s pouring with rain, your windscreen is steaming up, and to top it off you’re stuck behind the dreaded “L” plates. You start to get a little frustrated, but as a conscientious driver, you realise that everyone has to learn at some point… but then you ask yourself, do they really need to learn on the roads?
Let’s be honest, sometimes learning to drive is hard work, it’s stressful, it’s time consuming, it’s costly, and that’s just for the trainee. There is of course, also the aforementioned inconvenience to other road users. The truth is though, is that in order to learn to drive, and more importantly to learn to drive on the road, you really do need to do a certain amount of actual driving on the road.
But what if there was an easier way?
Well, in recent years, driver simulators and virtual environments have been increasingly used alongside the traditional methods of learning to drive, and they really have many advantages. Long gone are the days of only the military being able to afford simulators. Game technology and driving simulation has come a hell of a long way, and is more accessible than ever before, this means that it’s quickly breaking its way in to various different fields, including driver training.
So what does this mean for driver training and those learning to drive? With the unreliability of the road on a day to day basis it is extremely hard to practice certain aspects of driving, with virtual worlds these can be constantly repeated until it’s right. The truth is that more experienced drivers are better drivers, and this is simply because they have been faced with more situations and have learned how to react in the most appropriate manner. With a virtual world, it’s possible to get new drivers up to speed more quickly, and safely than ever before.
Imagine this; the day of your test arrives and it’s like a monsoon out there, or, just as likely it seems, it’s just started snowing!
It’s entirely possible as a new driver that you haven’t actually ever driven in these weather conditions before. Not especially great to say the least. This is a situation that’s actually perfectly feasible these days to simulate – so why would we wait until we find ourselves in this situation, with real consequences? Furthermore, in this scenario, the new driver pretty much has to figure out how best to handle this situation themselves, quite possibly in a fraction of a second!
Being able to learn a practical skill effectively, requires the availability of constant repetition and practice, something that real life driving doesn’t always allow for, but a simulator can.
I really think that having driver simulation and virtual worlds alongside standard driver training could really increase the retention of information for those learning to drive, as well as providing a safe learning environment for both themselves and other drivers. But what do you think?