M.L. Cook, G. Park, T.J. Rosenthal, B.L. Aponso
This study provided simulator training to over 500 high school students who had not yet received their driver’s licenses. The simulator training included an orientation to brief the students on standard traffic control devices (signs, signals and markings) and issues involved in safe and defensive driving. The students drove simulation scenarios lasting nominally 15 minutes that included hazardous roadway and traffic situations requiring psychomotor and cognitive skills to manage successfully. Students were required to drive at least six of these scenarios, and could ‘graduate’ on the sixth trial if they met the performance criteria (no more than one accident and speeding violation, appropriate turn indicator use). The training was administered in two research laboratories and three high schools with different simulator configurations. Simulator training data show significant driving skill improvement, particularly in terms of a speed versus accuracy tradeoff. The driving simulator was accepted enthusiastically by high school students and teachers associated with the training program. A second phase of this program involving longitudinal comparison of accident rates between simulator trained novice drivers and demographically matched novice drivers receiving only traditional training awaits the accumulation of adequate accident data.
Keywords: driver assessment; driver behavior; driving simulation; driver training