An interactive online driving tool called eDrive has been launched to help young New Zealand drivers learn basic road safety skills before getting behind the wheel.
Featuring 100 traffic simulations filmed on New Zealand roads, eDrive places the user behind the wheel of a realistic-looking car, complete with steering wheel, side and rear-view mirrors, and a speedometer.
Dealing with such scenarios as dangerous overtaking, children running across the road and night driving, the user is encouraged to identify hazards and provide commentary on what he or she has just seen.
New Zealand has the highest death rate in the OECD for drivers aged between 15 and 25, with young motorists causing 122 deaths and 800 serious injuries in 2008.
However, we also have a very high rate of internet usage, and eDrive developer, Dr Robert Isler, says this makes eDrive the ideal way to improve young drivers’ road safety skills.
"Research has shown that novice drivers who practice video-based hazard perception skills can reduce their risk when they actually get behind the wheel,” Isler says.
"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.”
Drivers aged between 15 and 19 can access eDrive for free by signing up for the New Zealand Transport Agency’s Practice programme.
Other drivers will pay $36.80 to access the simulations over a period of nine months. Isler says users can complete the programme in a few hours, or work through it section by section over a longer period.
Although eDrive is targeted at young motorists, older drivers are also encouraged to test their skills, and possibly identify lifelong habits that may be putting them in danger.