Blog stories

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Driver training and driving simulators

I would like to draw the reader's attention to a blog that focusses on driving simulators and driver training. Especially the following blog posts may be of interest to anyone interested in driver training and simulators:

The advantages of using a driving simulator for driver training discusses the fact that the traditional form of driver training in a learner car does not convey the most optimal form of training for car driving. Driving a car requires complex multitasking where a large number of tasks are performed simultaneously. This has very specific training requirements that are better met in a driver training simulator.

Task automation in car driver education zooms in on the task automation aspect that is trained specifically in a driving simulator. When a driver is overloaded because the driving environment demands more attention than the driver can allocate, a phenomenon called 'cognitive tunneling' occurs that increases accident risk.

Practice is all in driver training argues that a good driver has practiced a lot in all relevant traffic tasks and that simulators are very proficient in giving a lot of consistent practice to the learner driver. Specific driving tasks are practiced without the distractions and stress that comes with driver training in a learner car on public roads. Also, a driver training in a driving simulator ensures that the trainee gets sufficient practice in all driving related tasks. Also check this post about the type of car driving simulator.

Sunday, 3 April 2016

Differences in quality levels of driving schools

Some driving schools perform consistently well while other perform not so well. There has been some research into determining factors that contribute to the quality of driver training, and  the amount of practice in relevant driving tasks appears to be a very important factor. Lack of driving experience is probably the most important reason why young drivers fail for their driving exams or are overrepresented in the accident statistics. This suggests that driving schools with an excellent track record give their students a lot of driving experience in various driving tasks. This suggests that it is not a very good idea to apply for crash courses that promise a curriculum that has been reduced in time to just a couple of weeks.  It also suggests that a learner permit where young drivers are supervised by an experienced driver and have to practice a lot while they are only allowed to drive in favourable circumstances (for example only during daylight) is probably a good idea. It has never been proved that supervision by professional instructors results in better drivers or higher pass rates at exams, compared to supervision by parents. All in all, extensive practice appears to be the most important factor in passing of failing for the driving test.

Quality of the driving school is an important factor in the choice of a driving school by a learner driver. In most countries it is difficult for a learner driver to find information about the quality of driving schools. In the Netherlands, around 7750 driving schools were registered in 2012. All driving instructors have to be licenced and all have followed extensive training to become a registered instructor. In order to apply for a driving test, 40 lessons (one hour per lesson) are required, on average, in a learner car on public roads. The instructor determines when the learner driver is ready to pass for the test. Still, year after year the average pass ratio for the driver test (first time) is around 50%.

In the Netherlands the pass ratios of driving schools are publicly available via the website of the examination institute (CBR). This information is generally available to the public and is used by learner drivers to choose a driving school for their driver training. A number of driving schools have consistent high scores while other driving school consistently perform poorly on pass ratio. Lets define a good driving school as a driving school where more than 75% of all students pass the first time they do the driving test. Over a large sample of driving schools, around 12,5% of all driving schools can be qualified as 'good', according to this definition. If we define a poor driving school as one where only 25% of all students pass for their exam the first time, then around 17,5% of all driving schools can be considered 'poor'. 70% of all driving schools are then 'average'.

The 'good' driving schools generally attract a lot more learner drivers. They do well economically, while the 'poor' driving schools often struggle to survive, because the market is highly competitive. A pass percentage lower than 25% is low according to Dutch standards, whereas a pass ratio of 50% is considered 'normal'. These driving schools can benefit strongly by using a car driving simulator to increase the level of practice and task automation in their students. This will improve the quality of driver training for these low performing driving schools, because the simulator curriculum promotes task automation and extensive practive in relevant driving tasks. It is expected that this will increase the pass ratio and thus attract more customers.