New Research Shows Benefits of Simulator Training

Friday, 21 January 2011
A new study by researchers from Laval University in Quebec says older drivers would become better and safer by practicing in driving simulators.

The study, published in January 2011’s Psychological Science magazine, found that older motorists who experienced coaching on a simulator showed notable improvement in reaction time and skills which could lead to the reduction in vehicle crashes.

Normand Teasdale, who co-wrote the study with Pierre-Luc Gamache, Carol Hudon, and Martin Simoneau, said older people should be able to treat driving the way they do golf or tennis.

“Elderly people, if they want, can pick up the phone and they’ll have a golf pro or a tennis pro that will gladly help them for as many hours as they want, on the same day,” he said.

“Driving is just another set of motor skills, but there’s no such service for driving. The services that are available are mostly to test older people and tell them if they aren’t fit to drive anymore.”

The Canadian study backs research being conducted by Australian road safety expert Russell White, managing director of DriverSafety.com.au. He also said that this type of service is available here in Australia.

“We’ve been proficiency testing and training on simulators for the past 18 months – both new drivers and licensed drivers,” he said.

“The improvement in vital skills of driving including co-ordination, smoothness of driving and alertness following simulator training is well documented. That’s why highly skilled and high risk activities performed by surgeons and pilots are often trained and practiced on simulators.”

Mr White said advances in computer technology makes simulator training more affordable and that countries which mandated simulator training for drivers had the potential to see major life saving reductions in the road toll.

“Australia in particular has seen our road fatality statistics plateau over the past 10 to 15 years,” he said.

“The reason for that is reductions over the previous 30 years were largely driven by better vehicle safety such as seatbelt use, the widespread availability of affordable cars with airbags as well as improved road design and construction.

“The missing link has been pre and post-licence driver training and this is where simulator training provides a distinct advantage.”


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