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Can Driving Simulators Steer You Clear of Motor Vehicle Accidents?

F Marie Athey OHST

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F Marie Athey OHST | September 16, 2013 | Comments Off on Can Driving Simulators Steer You Clear of Motor Vehicle Accidents?

Distracted Driver Safety AwarenessBottleneck traffic greets you once you got to the shoulder of a road. Police cars and ambulances loom in sight. A woman, bloodied and unconscious is pinned underneath the vehicle. You observe that her car has hit a tree. You drive slowly as you pass by seeing numerous first responders and emergency vehicles. You can only assume what has happened to the woman. Perhaps she glanced at her phone or changed the radio. The next day you read in a news feed that the woman was distracted and lost control of her vehicle. Could this accident have been prevented with driver safety training?

Yes! Absolutely. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 2.3 million adult drivers and passengers were treated for injuries from motor vehicle crashes in 2009. The economic impact of car wrecks is also significant at $70 billion dollars. Crashes also rank third behind cancer and heart disease for life lost. Over 30,000 people die from crashes each year including drivers and passengers. Motor vehicle accidents are also a leading cause of death for young children.

What was once an untreatable epidemic, however, can now be prevented thanks to computer-based driver safety training that aim to change the way drivers behave on the road. After all, there’s more to driving than knowing how to step on the accelerator and maneuver the steering wheel. There are a multitude of laws that regulate motor vehicle operations and laws change yearly. Many states, cities, and counties are passing laws to control cell phone use in school zones, stop drivers from texting, and slow drivers down when passing emergency vehicles.

Defense driving training provider BrightFleet.com stated on its website that 90 percent of vehicle collisions result from one’s driving behavior. The remaining 10 % of accident causes are environmental and mechanical. If a driver has an accident and blames it on the weather there is also the driver’s behavior to take into account as to why the accident occurred. Fuel consumption and vehicle maintenance is also affected by one’s ways of driving and behaviors.

As evidenced by a recent study conducted by the National Center for Transit Research in Florida, lowering collision involving city buses is effective through bus simulator training. Managers of participating agencies in the study were convinced of the great value of simulators in allowing drivers to gain skills, knowledge, and confidence by experiencing mistakes in a repeatable environment. Overall, the study found out that agencies believed that training can lower costs and most of all improve safety performance among their drivers.

Simulators are commonly used in the aviation industry and the military to provide practice and insight on their future environment. According to the above mentioned study, simulators have been in use since the 1960s albeit in “archaic” forms.

These days, however, simulators provide a high-fidelity, 360-degree view of scenarios and street scapes. Recent innovations have also allowed trainers to modify a preset environment by introducing pedestrians and other motor vehicles into the simulation; and adjust motion delivery.

Simulator training is often times coupled with a risk-assessment session and computer-based learning that consist of teaching the student defensive driving strategies, hazard recognition, factors influencing driving performance, and special skills for emergency and difficult driving situations. These traditional, comprehensive training forms will reinforce the knowledge and insight that drivers have previously trained for.

Being present while driving is an acquired skill—besides, we humans are notoriously known to hold our attention span for about 20 minutes. Beyond that and our thoughts are meandering off to neverland or we are thinking of a long list of tasks to be accomplished. But with driver simulation training, better behaviors, and following the rules of the road, we can prevent motor vehicles from occurring. Buckle up!

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