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Driver Training Simulators: Good Potential

Updated on November 7, 2014
A Bus Simulator Used To Train Bus Drivers
A Bus Simulator Used To Train Bus Drivers | Source

A Home Edition Driver Simulator Can Also Be Useful

Driver Training Simulators

If you have ever been on the road, trying to get your daily errands done and had the misfortune of a learner driver near-miss or worse, then you might very well be one of the people who would love to have an increase in driver training simulation. The good news is that it already exists, so what is needed now is an increase in its use across the car (and other types of vehicle) industry.

Inexperienced After Obtaining License

Let’s face it: we all had to learn at one point before becoming the pros we are today. However, we need to accept the fact that lives are really being endangered when we head out onto the streets as novices behind wheels. In learning to drive, we really are not yet familiar with what is really expected of us on the roads. We have no clue about maneuvering bad weather, night driving, traffic, stops signs, to name a few.

While some of us might believe that we are naturals, I am sure that many of us have stories to tell of our first bad experience learning to drive or even being on the road unassisted, having received the much coveted driver’s license. Personally, my fear was for oncoming trucks, albeit in their own lanes minding their own business. It also took me a while to get the hang of remembering to check for stop signs; I know.

A Jamaica Urban Transit Bus plying its route
A Jamaica Urban Transit Bus plying its route | Source
A Stop Light In The Night: A Possible Hazard For Inexperienced Drivers
A Stop Light In The Night: A Possible Hazard For Inexperienced Drivers | Source

Upgraded License Or Vehicle: Still Inexperienced

The above argument, however, enlightens the fact that even after receiving license to drive on the road, we are a risk to others to some extent until we perfect the art. Incidentally, ‘perfect’ drivers can also be risk factors in certain given conditions and based on certain characteristics. An example of this is changing from a car to an SUV or a truck, where everything just seems that much more different and possibly difficult, albeit initially. Likewise, there are certain traits that are required for especially commercial and emergency vehicle drivers that are best ascertained before going on the road.

A Police Car Simulator
A Police Car Simulator | Source

Potential-Rich Invention

With the driver training simulators, the need to ensure safety and to minimize risk is greatly addressed. So great is this invention that it can also be used to monitor drivers in controlled environments and provide well-needed research. Driving simulation also provides an avenue for the disabled (differently able) community and amputees to regain their independence, all while minimizing the risk of endangering other road users or even breaking the law. This is known as the Hazard Perception and Disability Simulators Training.

Disabled Parking Lot
Disabled Parking Lot | Source

Ethics Accounted For

Another reason why simulators are useful is the fact that ethics are potentially eroded when learner-drivers are put on the streets to test their behavior, driving skills and response to hazards. An unsuspecting driver going about his business has no way of knowing what is being tested as he crosses paths with learner-drivers. Likewise, unless and until there is an accident, that driver will never know, as the practice is quite likely a double-blind one, in which neither road-user nor learner driver might know what is being tested. The other road users are therefore not informed or asked to give consent before or after the training exercise.

An accident possibly caused by driver error
An accident possibly caused by driver error | Source

Not Just Vehicles

The potential for training simulators is great and has long caught on in the gaming world. Likewise, it is a practice that is used for both vehicles and non-vehicles alike. This includes ship simulators, aeroplane/flight simulators, train and crane simulators, engineering simulators as well as medical, parachute and a host of others simulators.

A Flight Simulator
A Flight Simulator | Source

Some Types Of Vehicle Simulators

  • Modular Design Simulator: This simulator is one which, as the name suggests, can be used for different vehicles, to include high-pursuit cars, emergency response units, cranes and all airport vehicles among others. This is made possible by the use of cabs which are interchangeable to boast the features of the particular vehicle needed for the particular driver training.
  • Multi-Station Driving Simulator: In a bid to save time and money, this particular driver training simulator allows the trainer to attend to multiple trainees at the same time as the simulator has several cabs. This includes the trainer’s centralised station which can be used to monitor and control all the trainees at any given time.
  • Bus Simulator: There are several types and models of buses. What this simulator therefore does is to allow for interchanging to match the desired bus or model. The bus simulator factors in gear transmission types and simulates routes for familiarization. This is especially good as bus drivers are able to have a good knowledge of their intended route even before plying that route. Fuel efficiency and driving technique are also able to be assessed using this simulator

It is clear that driver training simulators are good alternatives which hold the potential to increase safety and save money, while perfecting drivers’ art. It is however, not being used as widespread as is desired, especially in the Caribbean where road fatality rates need to be reduced and driving skills need to be perfected, in a bid to compete on the world market.

Simulators In The Caribbean

In all fairness, the technology does exist in Jamaica, specifically at the Caribbean Maritime Institute (CMI). Whether it exists anywhere else in the island is yet to be ascertained. The CMI should be commended for their effort as not only do they have vehicle simulators; they also have Maritime Navigation Simulators which include simulators to address specific functions/malfunctions of different parts as well as other non-vehicle simulators. There are approximately two other countries within the hemisphere with simulation training.

A Norwegian Cruise Ship in the Vicinity of Dunn's River Falls, Jamaica
A Norwegian Cruise Ship in the Vicinity of Dunn's River Falls, Jamaica

Save Money, Time, Lives

The saving is real as it makes sense to choose to risk crashing in a simulator designed for that purpose, for the sake of perfecting the art of defensive driving. This is as opposed to crashing a real vehicle because of driver error, lack of skills or vehicle malfunction. Likewise, any reduction in real risk to road users is also very advantageous. Now if only this method could be used to determine and train all road users, we might all celebrate in time.

Have You Ever Used A Simulator?

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