“Drive to the conditions, when they change, reduce your speed.” We might’ve had it drilled into us with the radio jingle, but a new online interactive tool aims to help young drivers hone all the necessary skills required to pass the restricted driver’s licence test.
Endorsed by the NZ Transport Agency, eDrive.co.nz takes users through a series of video-based simulations of New Zealand roads to provide a realistic experience of those unpredictable Kiwi driving conditions in HD. Sitting behind the wheel of a simulated car, complete with speedometer, rear-view mirrors and two side mirrors, the user can even practice in night and day driving scenarios. All this to narration by Kiwi racing hero Greg Murphy.
University of Waikato psychology professor Dr Robert Isler says he established eDrive Solutions Ltd to combat New Zealand’s high road toll.
“New Zealanders get behind the wheel at a younger age than most countries. This is coupled with an overestimation of their driving ability. We had to find a way to improve driving skills, and taking it online was the best way,” he says.
In New Zealand, 15 to 25-year-old drivers have the highest death rate in the OECD. In general, driving standards in New Zealand are poor, with 314 deaths in the 12 months to June 29, 2011.
Fortunately, video-based driving practice has proven results. Dr Isler says research has shown that novice drivers who "practise video-based hazard perception skills on video simulations can reduce their risk when they actually get behind the wheel.”
Funded by the New Zealand Transport Agency and ACC, and sponsored by Suzuki and BP New Zealand, the tool is particularly aimed at young learner drivers who have free access if they sign up to the Practice programme, an NZTA initiative. From 15 August BP Connect service stations will sell also the eDrive programme instore.