Online car simulator programs are for entertainment and education purposes only. After all, the arrow keys are hardly a steering wheel. They cannot teach you how to drive. But they can give you a feel of the basics…like staying on the right side of the lane and parking properly among other things. Some simulations as we will see, also teach you the proper safety measures and important road manners.
I was the fender-bender in the family. Jittery hands and a nervous disposition. But I still learnt to drive after guzzling a few gallons of fuel. I always wished that I could really try out the basics without crashing and burning to embarrassment. There weren’t any car driving simulators available online then. There are some now.
We had covered a couple of car driving simulation programs some years back. The Chrysler car simulator program has been scrapped, but others have taken its place online.
Toyota – Head’s Up
Did you know that Toyota actually has a full-fledged driving simulator at one of its technical center’s? It would be difficult to get on that £16 million machine just to pass your driving test. What you can do though, is try the Head’s Up online simulator which Toyota created in a partnership with Discovery education. It is a part of an educational series for the teen driver hosted at – you guessed it – Toyota Teen Driver.
Head’s Up is an interactive challenge game that tries to teach young drivers how to negotiate traffic while facing common road distractions like texting while driving ( a strict no-no), changing radio stations, grabbing a can of coke etc. The driving game is for educational purpose, meant to teach young drivers the importance of road safety.
Canadian Automobile Association Simulator
The one problem with driving simulators happen around the topic of internationalization. Driving laws are different around the world. Even then, road safety rules can be assumed to be the same globally. For instance: the basic precaution of never taking your eyes off the road is the same in any country around the world. So, with that thought, the CAA simulator is well worth a try to improve your driving IQ. You don’t actually drive a virtual car here.
The simulator puts you in different situations, like – residential, urban, and a rural highway. Every scenario has different hazards which you must learn to navigate. For instance, in residential areas, you need to be alert for children playing in the area or going to school, parked cars, and pets. Compounding this are the different variables on the road. Make your choices on the wizard, and observe the consequences of your actions in the final graphic.
The Ford Driving Skills for Life (DSFL) was started in 2003 by Ford Motor Company Fund, the Governors Highway Safety Association, and a panel of safety experts to tackle the educational challenge of teaching teenagers in the U.S. driving safety rules and prevent teenage car accidents. The site says: Vehicle crashes are the No. 1 killer of teenagers in America. Nearly 5,000 teens die annually in such accidents, according to the most recent data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
DSFL is a comprehensive educational tool that includes study modules and a quiz, car care videos, and driving simulation games teaching road safety. The three well-designed games teach accident avoidance, vehicle handling, distracted and impaired driving, highway driving, and focus.
New York Times – Gauging Your Distraction
The Driven to Distraction Series from the New York Times came out four years back. It still remains relevant because our bad driving habits aren’t going away soon. Gauging Your Distraction addresses one of the more dangerous ills of the digital age which is taking lives around the world – texting while driving. There are many apps that help you use your phone while driving, but I hope everyone follows the only thing that’s really required – don’t use your phone while driving. The simple game measures your reaction times when you are distracted and tries to show the dangers of multitasking while driving and texting.
Learn to Park
One would think that slowing the car down and gently nudging it in a corner would be the easiest of things for new drivers. It isn’t. Parking a car for the first few times feels like taking an aircraft carrier through the Panama Canal. I haven’t done the latter yet, but I can assure you of the feeling. This Drivers Ed game has four levels, and all of them help you practice your dexterity behind a Toyota Prius as you tackle parking lots and narrow spaces. Using the arrow keys to park the vehicle isn’t any easier than using the steering. Oh yes, you also have to keep an eye on the clock.
Okay! I managed to park the car. But just like real life, tomorrow is another day and you have to keep remembering and applying the lessons you learnt online (or in driving school). I agree that driving virtually isn’t the real deal. But I am sure you will also agree, that these driving educational tools have a place in the scheme of things. Tell us about your first day behind the wheel? How was the experience like? Do you think these virtual driving simulators help? Do you know any online learning to drive educational tool that deserves a mention?
Image Credit: aldrin_muya