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ECA Driving Simulator

Eca Faros manufactured the first PC based flight simulators for Airbus in 1986, then introducing car simulators in 1994 and remains the world leader in simulator training technology. There are now more than 20,000 driving simulators used worldwide.

They have a subsidiary Company in the US with over 6000 simulators into High Schools. There are now more than 8000 car driving simulators used for driver education training throughout the world.

So why have they not been used in NZ Before?

Technology costs a lot. Eca Faros agreed to fund the adaptations for NZ Road rules and conditions this year. We believe that it is very important to use the best available technology to achieve the best possible outcome. Eca faros simulators give the student the closest possible experience without actually driving on the road.

They teach skills, whereas, other so-called driver training simulators increase the number of driver hours and improve actual road knowledge operated as a computer program. Without teaching driving skills and consequences of actions through actual experiences a computer program can only ever have a limited benefit.

Our simulators are actually driven like a car using a real steering wheel, pedals, indicators, seatbelt to enable the driver to gain driving skills not just experience. It is these skills and experiences that can help to reduce driver accidents.

In recent testing in NZ of drivers from all age groups and experience, including a newly licensed driver, all failed their test. There is always room to improve our driving skills and learn new ones.

Why use a simulator versus on road training?

The simulator does not replace on road training but compliments it. Each skill can be learnt more quickly as there are no external stress factors and the new driver can concentrate on learning one skill at a time in the correct order of priority and only combining them when they have achieved the required standard. Practise can be done on one area of deficiency when required. There are never panic situations or upset instructors when mistakes are made- the driver is responsible for their learning and is able to practise until the skill is mastered.

At Waikato University they have recommended hazard perception/anticipation training for younger drivers without exposing them to the hazards on road. The University suggest that exposing new drivers to 1hr of hazard perception via video increases their awareness & reaction time which is generally 30% below that of an experienced driver. The simulator can go one step further than video based training, providing an interactive & realistic experience of many common hazards to increase awareness and anticipation. It does this in a safe and positive learning environment that cannot be replicated as effectively in any other training that involves new driver participation.

Most new drivers do not experience varying road types during the learner phase. On the simulator, the new driver experiences up to 300km of town, country, alpine, city, and freeway driving, even though some of these may not be present in the driver’s local environment. Research shows that the time of day and bad weather conditions play an important part in many accidents, so these variables are included in the standard training programmes for all drivers to provide the highest possible skill & awareness level from the start of training.

Do I need a license to start learning on the simulator?

Many new drivers overseas have their initial training on these simulators until they develop the knowledge, skills, awareness & confidence to drive competently on the road. This can take the average driver 5-7 lessons because of the variety of skills & conditions a new driver has to learn to master. It is not necessary but we encourage people to be serious about getting their license quickly after these lessons to maintain the skills taught and transfer them to on road use.

The training may be beneficial in helping the driver to remember rules and guidelines outlined in the Road Code by using them and having an understanding as to how they are applied & why they are required.

Does the simulator have NZ Roads on it?

No, the same roads are used around the world for training drivers on the simulator. It is the same skills required to drive no matter where you live in the world, but the simulator has been modified with NZ rules. Unlike other forms of driver training it provides a consistent result as learners cannot progress until they have achieved the required standard.

It has 300km of roads- town, city, country, alpine, 4 lane freeways, etc on the programs designed as a result of accident research from Nottingham University, GBR. The main causes for accidents happen all over the world. What the simulator also teaches an increased awareness so the hazard is detected long before it could become an issue. (Prevention rather than cure).

Isn’t it just like a glorified game?

The Eca Faros driving simulators are rated as the best PC Based units in the world. They are used extensively throughout Europe, Britain, Usa & Canada, with new markets spreading through Asia & The Middle East. The same resources, millions of Euros and the expertise of staff who have been designing and producing flight simulators for Airbus since the mid 1980’s is used in the production of all their driving simulators.

There are countries in Europe who use the simulator to not only teach but also assess drivers. These countries have far better accident rates than NZ especially with drivers under 25. The programs are designed as a result of research from Nottingham University, GBR Accident Research Centre and no other simulators that can provide the variety and quality of training.

How much does it cost for simulator training?

Standard fees for the Initial learner lessons are typically $75/hr (gst inclusive). The software is designed to be taught by the simulator so that it is always consistent and objective and the driver feels more in control of their own learning.

Individual modules like the full Hazard Awareness module (approx 2hrs), Eco- Drive (1hr), Darkness Training (1hr) are typically charged at $75/hr. Our qualified trainers provide feedback and advice when difficulties arise but the programme is designed to make the learner responsible for their own learning.

What is the Hazard Awareness Programme?

Basically, “it’s the ambulance at the top of the hill rather than the bottom!”It is a program that uses both city and country roads with typical hazards associated with both used during the program. We combine it with the Braking & Safety Distances module, with the free drive areas providing an opportunity for putting what they have learned into practice. They are approximately 2hrs and are done totally in the safety of the simulator.

Because the module is fully interactive, drivers learn the consequences of their choices in many emergency situations. During the drive they experience situations in rain, and varying degrees of visibility. The scenarios are typical hazards that cause accidents resulting in injury & death all over the world and are too common for new drivers. This module increases driver awareness through experience rather than just theory.

Research shows that the retention of information gained this way is likely to be retained longer and more accurately. In an emergency situation they are more likely to remember what to do automatically because they have actually already done it.

Will the Hazard Awareness Programme count toward the reduction of my restricted license?

At this stage, No! This is because the simulators were only imported in Mid September 2010. We will be working towards recognition of the programme next year. A Hazard Awareness or Defensive Driving Course should not be undertaken just to reduce the restricted period. It should be done to learn skills that will hopefully keep you and others safe on the roads for the life time of driving ahead.

When & why should I do a Hazard Awareness Programme?

Unlike the Defensive Driving Course (4 theory & 1 practical) done after the driver has been driving alone for some time (even years), the simulator includes aspects of the Hazard Awareness program throughout a learner’s training on the simulator. It is recognised that it can take a new driver several years to scan adequately and accurately predict driver behaviour. Then there is the separate 2hr Hazard awareness Programme that can be taught & we recommend after a driver has gained the basic skills of driving.

Dr Robert Isler, a senior lecturer in psychology at Waikato University is currently conducting a study on this and believes that ‘cognitive skills training’ is the answer. He states that research conducted in 2004 proved that an hour of learning to spot and identify hazards via video based training, significantly reduced risk taking behaviour. Similar training improved reaction times in young drivers which are normally 30% slower than those of older drivers.

Researchers believe that it is important to promote awareness of young driver’s limitations in real driving situations, train them to recognize hazards and to adequately assess the related risks. In 2002, another group of researchers found that anticipation of the road ahead and the behaviour of other traffic is critical to successful scanning (Chapman, Underwood & Roberts, 2002). Only a small proportion of hazards represent real danger for a driver. Experienced drivers are better able to quantify the degree of danger and respond appropriately (Ferguson 2003).Many of the studies on this indicate that hazard perception/anticipation training may be a beneficial addition to the training of young drivers. It may improve hazard perception without exposing them to the dangers of driving.

At Sim Safe Driver Training we are able to provide Hazard perception and anticipation training on the Simulator as part of any driver education, whether the rest of the training is done with us or elsewhere. We believe that it gives a new driver firsthand experience of the risks and how to evaluate and respond appropriately in a 100% safe environment. This method has been effectively used for many years with pilot training and we can provide the same benefits to vehicle training on the Eca Faros driving simulators. ur paragraph

There is a lot of talk about how bad new driver’s are – just how bad is it?

The frontal lobe of the brain deals with cognitive skills like self assessment, risk management and hazard perception. This area doesn’t develop fully until we are 25 and is the reason young people can be so reckless on the roads. It is interesting to note that at 25 the risk factor for crashes disappears. In the statistics for 2009, young drivers from 15-24yrs were involved in 4500 crashes involving some form of injury on urban and rural roads throughout NZ. This resulted in 6398 casualties. The most common cause of accidents on urban roads involved Crossing/Turning (47%) whereas, on rural roads it was loss of control/ head on collision involving bends (48%).

The average social cost associated with road crashes and associated injuries per reported crash (in 6/09 dollar values) for all ages are estimated at:

Rural Fatal crash- $4.26 million
Urban Fatal crash- $3.77 million
Rural Serious crash- $820,000
Urban Serious crash- $699,000
Rural Minor crash- $91,000
Urban Minor crash- $82,000

These figures were only based on reported accident rates so these are the minimum social costs per crash. Despite years of advertising to increase awareness in the general public and safety campaigns New Zealand still lags way behind world leaders like Britain and Australia’s accident statistics. Young people now have access to more powerful cars at an earlier stage of their driving, many have a disregard for authority and rules but the one thing that hasn’t changed is that most young people do not believe that ‘it could happen to them’.

I have a disability/ injury that has prevented me from driving- will the simulator be able to help me learn to drive or drive again?

Each person is different and so is their disability so there can never be a guarantee that you will be able to drive. This assessment will have to be done by a qualified assessor but the simulator provides a safe and stress free environment to maximise learning potential through its graduated learning system prior to and after this assessment.

The graduated learning system may be helpful for people with dyspraxia, the verbal and visual prompts are ideal for people with reading problems. It isolates each function of driving and builds skills on skill in the correct order in a consistent measured manner. It is a safe place to make the typical mistakes that one does when learning without the serious consequences associated with learning on the road, this builds confidence at the same time as competence. 

The simulator can be used by people rehabilitating after illness or injury while they are waiting to be assessed or to re-learn certain skills and gain confidence before driving on the road again.Please also enquire with us if you require the use of hand controls, these are able to be fitted to our simulator for training.The simulator can provide an objective assessment of any areas of concern before on-road training is undertaken.

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