Car driving simulators are used for various purposes. The first thing that comes to mind when thinking about driving simulators is driver training. Most simulators are used for initial driver training in driving schools. See for more information an article about driving schools and one about the suitability of a driving simulator for driver tests. Other driving training applications are:
- simulators for police training. Police training on public roads is often difficult because of regulations concerning the use of optical and sound signals (siren and flash light). Simulators can be very useful then because they allow policemen to practice driving with police siren. Other drivers often respond unexpectedly when a policecar approaches fast and with sound signals.
- simulators for emergency services. Ambulance and fire engine drivers can also practice in a simulator in the use of optical and sound signals. A simulator offers excellent opportunities to practice driving in traffic and apply the rules for ‘priority vehicles’, while learning how to cope with other traffic.
- training of hazard perception. Inexperienced drivers are often deficient in their recognition of hazards. A simulator can offer special training scenarios of unexpected situations that don’t occur often in the real world.
Apart from driver training, other driving simulator applications are:
- Research driving simulators. Research simulators are used at research institutes, universities and in the car industry for scientific research and testing. These simulators are used for human factors studies (man-machine interactions, interactions with in-vehicle system, effects on driver workload, etc.), studies on the effects of infrastructure on behaviour, to study the effect of alcohol and drugs on driver behaviour etc.
- Distracted driver simulation. The last couple of years it has become clear that driver distractions, especially because of texting and use of smart phone while driving, is an important factor in accidents in especially young drivers. A simulator can demonstrate in a very convincing way how this affects driver safety by letting young drivers experience it. More information on a distracted driver simulator can be found here.
- Impaired driving or driving under the influence (DUI). DUI is still one of the most important causes of traffic fatalities. Impaired driving simulations can help to increase awareness of the dangers of drunk driving. Young drivers have an above average accident risk because of impaired driving (DUI). How impaired driving is simulated can be found here. To read more about the accident risk of young drivers, click here. To read more about the effects of alcohol on driving performance, click here.
- Eco Drive simulations. Changing your driving style can help reduce fuel consumption. This can be trained in a simulator and the effects on fuel consumption can be demonstrated in a convincing way to drivers.
- Treatment of fear of driving or driving phobia. Fear of driving can strongly affect the lives of those who suffer from this. Fear of driving can be treated effectively in a driving simulator. VR systems and simulators are increasingly being used to treat driving phobia.
- Evaluation of fitness to drive. For elderly drivers and people who have medical conditions that require an evaluation of fitness to drive, simulators can help to establish their driving skills in a much more valid way that the traditional testing methods.
- Rehabilitation training. People who need occupational therapy or rehabilitation training can practice various driving tasks in a simulator in a safe environment.