Virtual Reality driving helps young people pass licence test

Published: 8 February 2023

Claire Paterson helps Ashburton District Mayor Neil Brown navigate the Virtual Reality world of learning to drive.

Members of the Ashburton District Road Safety Co-ordinating Committee had a chance this week to test out a driving simulator they hope will help more young people improve their driving skills and get their licence.

Mayor Neil Brown, who was first to have a go, said having a driver’s licence was important in a district with no public transport and where people often needed to travel to work.

“We also know that having a driver’s licence helps young people make better choices and keeps them out of trouble with police.”

There are already driving simulators at Ashburton College and Mt Hutt College, and a third is to be installed in Ashburton, possibly at the Ashburton Library.

The CoDriVR driving simulator at Ashburton College has been used 122 times a month on average since it was installed last year.

Students start at Level 1 and can progress up to Level 8, by donning a Virtual Reality headset and successfully negotiating local “real life” intersections that have been programmed into the simulator.

The stimulator tracks lane position, gap selection and indicator use, and drivers can only progress to the next level if they pass the simulated scenarios.

There are also scenarios for open road cornering and the simulations get trickier as more traffic and higher speeds are added.

Nine simulators have been installed in secondary schools in the Mid and South Canterbury area, able to be accessed by nearly 5000 students, and promoter Rhys Gardner told the Ashburton road safety committee that they were a great tool to support young people learning to drive.

The simulator helped build muscle memory and awareness so that students were better prepared to pass driving tests and the technology was improving and evolving all the time, he said.

The road safety committee meets every three months and includes representatives from Council, Waka Kotahi, ACADS, Fire and Emergency and Police.

Mayor Brown said he had arranged a meeting at the site of a planned heavy vehicle weigh station just north of the SH1 Rakaia River bridge so engineers could explain the road safety aspects of the facility.

Council says the southbound weigh station has the potential to cause nose-to-tail collisions as highway traffic is surprised by slow-moving trucks that are either entering the weigh station for weighing or turning back onto the highway after being weighed.

Mayor Brown said an engineer from Wellington would be on site later this month with interested parties to show how trucks would be able to safely pull into and exit the site.

Share this article

More News

View all news