You could soon learn how to negotiate roundabouts, intersections and highway merges from the seat of a driver training simulator. The state of the art technology could even put you behind the wheel for the perfect reverse park.
A desire to put better motorists on Ipswich roads inspired Dave Cullen to invest almost $50,000 in a simulator that brings driver education to the digital age.
The owner of Ipswich Pro Drive will take his Simworkx Driver Training System on the road next year, putting people behind the wheel at schools and community events.
“Inconsistency in training is a big issue in our industry,” Mr Cullen said.
“I always find if people learn the wrong thing first it’s generally what they remember and what they go back to. It’s starting a bad habit from day one.
“This is a machine so there’s no debate and no opinion. It’s black and white – you’re either doing the right thing or the wrong thing.
“It takes the emotion out of learning how to drive. It’s 100 per cent factual and when you’re finished you get a printed report of the results.”
The three-screen Simworkx system is programmed to Queensland road rules and can be configured as an automatic or manual vehicle.
It includes real-world driving conditions that can be combined to create hundreds of driver education lessons for people of all ages.
“If we can get kids into this at 13 or 14 and teach the correct skills from day one it’s going to be a huge advantage when they eventually do go out onto the road,” Mr Cullen said.
“It works for the older generations too. For them it’s less about driving and more about brushing up on the road rules.
“My thought with this is long-term because good drivers take two or three years to develop from those ages of 13 and 14.
“At the end of the day, if we can achieve a better understanding of the road rules and see better, more aware drivers on Ipswich roads then we’re achieving our goal.”
DAVE DELIVERS: Three things Ipswich motorists need to master.
“Correct indication at a roundabout has a flow-on effect at surrounding streets. You only need to look at the roundabouts near Riverlink to get an idea of how traffic can bank up in the area when people don’t indicate correctly.
“When it comes to multi-lane roundabouts, unless traffic lane arrows indicate otherwise, it’s generally a case of common sense. If you want to turn left, use the left lane. Turn right from the right lane, and go straight ahead from either lane. Remember to give way to all vehicles already on the roundabout and use your indicator as you’re exiting.”
“Similar to roundabout indication, highway merging can have a flow-on effect in the merging lane and also the highway itself. Remember to indicate before you merge and importantly, stop indicating when you’ve completed the merge.
“When you merge on a road with marked lanes you give way to traffic in the lane you’re moving into. On a road with no marked lanes you give way to traffic that is ahead of you. Building up speed to match the traffic on the highway will help you find a safe space to merge.”
“Awareness of your surroundings, other motorists and your own fatigue and limits is incredibly important. Scan the road and surroundings for any hazards and keep in mind that other motorists are human and can make mistakes and become distracted. It’s the old cliché, but you’ve got to expect the unexpected.
“Driver fatigue isn’t just about long haul drivers who make a living behind the wheel. You could do a 12-hour day at the office and be totally exhausted when you finish. That’s something everyone needs to think about, especially when we’re doing longer hours and driving to and from work.”