Driving simulators are used to train drivers for various road conditions and situations. These simulators help them learn to navigate tricky or dangerous situations without risking their lives.
Despite this, studies have shown that simulator training may not necessarily transfer to on-road driving. For example, some studies showed that the quality of lane behavior did not improve after simulator training.
They Represent the Real World
In simulators, it is possible to create and reproduce situations that are too dangerous to recreate on real roads. It makes simulators an efficient tool for training drivers, such as new drivers, under controlled risk conditions.
A simulator can test a driver’s ability to deal with distractions and other factors that might compromise road safety. For example, it is unsafe to experiment with how phone calls and texts affect a driver’s vigilance on the real road, but this can be tested in a simulator.
Driving simulator also allow you to see the world from a different perspective. For instance, a driver with limited vision might be able to use a simulator to test how they can assess information at angles not afforded by current visual systems. A simulator can also help drivers improve their driving by determining how they check key safety areas such as rearview mirrors, intersections, and stop signs. It could reduce the number of crashes caused by a need for more awareness. It can be a major problem among young drivers.
They Make Driving Scary
Unlike real roads, simulators can offer an array of challenging driving scenarios. They are also more realistic, offering better physical, perceptual, and behavioral fidelity. This level of commitment allows researchers to conduct experiments that would be difficult, expensive, and often unsafe to perform on actual roadways.
For example, researchers can experiment with how a driver’s performance is affected by various distractions, such as wireless devices or back pain, without endangering the driver’s life. They can also test a person’s ability to concentrate under conditions that would be too dangerous to experiment on the road, such as drowsiness or fatigue.
Driving simulations can improve drivers’ skills by teaching them to anticipate hazards. It is important, as it is what drives most crashes. Simulators can help novice drivers learn to do this more effectively than they would on the open road, and they can help older drivers sharpen their hazard anticipation skills, whether these improvements translate to the real world or reduce a driver’s crash risk. Researchers are currently testing this hypothesis.
They Give Feedback
Using a driving simulator for driver training provides immediate feedback on behavior and decisions. Unlike the real world, where there are often so many variables, training on a simulation allows trainers to change weather, road conditions, and even vehicle settings within seconds – giving learners a chance to test their skills under various scenarios and learn from the results.
When researchers asked novice and experienced drivers to perform distracting tasks inside or outside their vehicle, they found that the two groups looked at their surroundings for very different lengths of time – with the experienced driver spending less time on out-of-vehicle distraction tasks but longer duration glances while performing in-vehicle distraction tasks. These differences are surprising since there is evidence that novice and expert drivers process information in the periphery better than the forward roadway in their vehicles.
Furthermore, on-road data agrees with simulator-based data, indicating that a trained driver spends much less time looking off the road. However, these comparisons do not imply causality, as the agreement between on-road and simulator data may stem from knowledge of being part of an experiment rather than any particular effect of simulator training.
They Make Learning Fun
Whether you’re looking for a new driver to train or trying to improve fleet safety, providing your drivers with an immersive and safe learning environment is essential. This is where driving simulators come in!
Driving simulations can recreate complex traffic situations that would be difficult, expensive, and unsafe to test on roadways. It allows for experimental repeatability and comprehensive data collection. This also makes it easy to experiment with driver behavior in various conditions affecting safety, such as distracted driving or drowsiness.
Simulators have been shown to improve hazard perception, decision-making, and self-awareness. They can also help drivers gain experience in critical situations without risking their lives on the road.
Overall, most studies found that simulator training is effective for improving performance in a variety of ways. However, it’s important to remember that these improvements are not always transferable to on-road driving performance. The simulator’s degree of realism and dynamicity is the most important factor in predicting transferability. This is why more realistic and advanced simulators are preferred to train drivers for real-world scenarios.
They Make Learning More Effective
Unlike on-road driving, simulators allow learners to practice in dangerous scenarios without putting anyone at risk. They can easily manipulate weather, road conditions, and vehicle settings within seconds to create various driving situations to help trainees build their confidence behind the wheel.
One of the main reasons young people are at higher risk of a car crash is that they lack driving experience. While some countries use simulators to train young drivers, they have yet to prove effective. It’s time to expand the use of simulators for novice driver training to avoid high crash rates among this demographic.
Even older drivers could benefit from simulators if they were better trained in responding to danger signs; according to a study, the researchers found that older drivers who used simulators with an observer showed fewer mistakes than those who took a written exam and drove independently. The research also showed that simulators improved the attention skills of older drivers. Further studies are needed to disentangle the cognitive functions that benefit most from simulator training and how on-road driving performance improves after simulation training.