How driving simulation labs prepare young drivers for transitioning to on-road driving

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Sometimes we talk to parents who insist they only want their student driver to do on-road instruction. They question the need to use simulation driving versus just getting on the road. The question I would ask is: “Why wouldn’t you want your child to learn in a safe and controlled environment before putting them on the road?” Simulation training for drivers is no different than simulation training for an airplane pilot.

Would you really want a novice pilot learning to land in real time? I doubt it. Then ask yourself the question, why would you want to put a novice driver in traffic before providing them an opportunity to develop some competence and skill in a controlled environment?

In a simulation lab an instructor’s focus is on skill development. Students can make mistakes and there are no consequences other than having to do it over again. If you’re on the road you know all too well the consequences of making a mistake. An instructor’s attention is split between the student and the road because they have to anticipate and do everything in their power to keep everyone safe. In the simulation lab, an instructor’s full attention is on the student. If they make a mistake it creates a “teachable moment.” What better way to introduce all of the necessary skills to new drivers before they “hit the real road” where we have no control over the actions of others.

The perception we also run into is that the simulators are video games. Let me assure you the simulators we use are not video games. We use state-of-the-art equipment that is specifically designed to assist in the development of driving skills. Our model in particular is very student-centric. We don’t use the simulators as the instructor/teacher. We use them as a powerful tool where students experience a lesson. We have paid very close attention to standards and have made sure that our curriculum meets or exceeds national as well as state standards.

All of the standards require a minimum of 30 hours of classroom instruction and only 10 hours of actual on-road experience. DrivingMBA has the unique ability to provide hours of classroom instruction in a hands-on laboratory, so instead of talking them through how to make a right or left turn, they make the turn and are being coached by an instructor. The same is true for every specific skill that needs to be developed. Click here to learn more about DrivingMBA’s simulation technology.

We also have the ability to introduce advanced defensive driving skills when a student is actually ready to learn them. When students complete the traditional 30-hour classroom standards they are introduced to these additional concepts before they even get their instructional permit. That means they have never been behind the wheel of a car yet! How much of that information do you think they will retain from that classroom environment (in class or online) versus introducing a concept and having them experience it in a virtual scenario? I think you know the answer to that question.

We are not suggesting that a student participate only with simulators. They need to also get on the road and transfer the knowledge they’ve gained in our skills lab. In our on-road lessons it is our objective to get a student to a higher level of complexity each time we take them on the road. That is why the combination of simulation, on-road, and practice is so crucial. The actual “classroom” we do is minimal. The goal here is really not the license—the goal is to develop a safe and responsible driver. The license comes when that has been achieved.

author avatar
Maria Wojtczak
Maria Wojtczak is Chief Operating Officer at DrivingMBA. She has extensive knowledge in teen brain development and has pioneered many techniques used to teach students at DrivingMBA. Her passion for teaching and saving teen lives has made her a leader in the driver training industry.

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