Blog Archives - VDI - Only in Simulation


September 8, 2021
Commercial vehicle

How Organizations Can Make Roads Safer

Most companies have to engage in some form of logistics, whether it is for deliveries or sending employees out into the field. When companies send their employees out on the road they are responsible for ensuring they follow the rules, are safe on the road, and that their vehicles are road worthy. Unfortunately this isnt always the case, with statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showing that most fatalities involve a commercial vehicle. In 2018, 11% of the work-related deaths involved pedestrians that were struck by these vehicles. The good news is that there are ways for companies to improve fleet safety and make the roads safer for their employees, road users, and pedestrians. From vehicle maintenance to simulation training, driver safety is easier to ensure than ever before.

Ensure vehicle maintenance

All vehicles need regular maintenance, and this is especially true of commercial vehicles, as the company faces legal action if an accident happens due to negligence in this area. Regular maintenance is key for driver and fleet safety, as it makes sure that vehicles are functioning properly and that companies can prove that they are road safe. The United States Department of Labor stated in their Guidelines for Employers to Reduce Motor Vehicle Crashes that vehicles should be on a routine preventive maintenance schedule for servicing and checking of safety-related equipment. Regular maintenance should be done at specific mileage intervals consistent with the manufacturers recommendations. A mechanic should do a thorough inspection of each vehicle at least annually with documented results placed in the vehicles file”.

Utilize vehicle technologies

While we are not quite there with autonomous vehicles, new technology exists to help improve fleet safety by making commercial vehicles smarter. Collision Avoidance Systems include tire pressure monitors that help prevent tire blowouts by warning the drivers of how elevation or temperature changes are affecting the tires. Meanwhile, forward collision monitoring systems warn of hazards ahead so the driver can swerve or brake in time. Even the best driver training can’t prepare fleets for real-world hazards, but this technology is poised to fill in the gaps.

Another very useful technology for fleet safety is telematics. An article on telematics by Verizon Connect explains that a telematics system involves installing a tracking device in a vehicle to send, receive, and store data. This includes speed, fuel consumption, vehicle faults, and idling time, among others. This will improve driver safety by allowing managers to monitor their driversbehavior, such as speeding and harsh braking. They will then be able to reprimand and retrain any drivers who fail to meet the required standards.

Provide proper driver education and simulation training

An article by Bob Davis, former CEO & President of Virtual Driver Interactive, emphasizes how drivers are highly important assets to your company, and as such, driver safety must also be a priority for the company. Having a license should only be the first requirement to deeming someone competent enough to be trusted with your vehicle and ensuring fleet safety. Before putting anyone on the road, have them undergo proper driver training first, which includes your companys policies and procedures, such as incident reporting and logbooks.

Its also possible for them to undergo driver training without being on the road yet. Our 'Does Simulation Training Really Work?' feature notes that simulations are effective in training new and experienced drivers. This is because these allow active learning, meaning potential drivers get immediate feedback on their performance. Driver simulation training also gives them a safe environment to practice as they can learn from critical errors without causing harm to themselves or others on the road.

Fleet management isnt just about being productive – companies must ensure that they are making the road safer. Paying attention to both vehicles and driver safety ensures that you're keeping your employees and pedestrians safe, while also running your fleets more efficiently.

Words by Bernadette James

September 1, 2021

Simulation Training Poised to Transform Driving School for Students With Autism Spectrum Disorder

For many, learning to drive is a gateway to independence and freedom, but the road to a license isn’t always a smooth one – especially for teens with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Varying abilities to process information and make decisions mean that traditional driver training might be less effective for those with ASD. The good news is that, while driving hasn’t changed much over the years, the classroom has continued to evolve with technology. With advancements such as simulation training no longer stuck in the realm of science fiction, students with ASD are finding better ways to learn.

Approximately 1 in 3 teens with ASD are getting their licenses by age 21, according to a recent study. And in a survey conducted with 297 parents of teens with ASD, 63% of the parents said their teen was already driving or planned to drive. Researchers have found that by incorporating driving simulators into the standard curriculum for driver training, youth with ASD can improve their driving ability and identify areas that may require a little more focus. Simulation training is typically self-paced and allows the student to progress from simple scenarios to more complex environments.

Another study revealed that there is great potential in the effectiveness of using driving simulators in helping high-functioning drivers with Autism improve basic driving skills. The authors understand that ASD can affect learning to varying degrees, so it's important to find methods of training that help address specific concerns. Traditional methods used in driving school need to be updated, and simulation training is here to help teens with ASD learn in a safe environment and feel secure behind-the-wheel.

Simulation training provides unique benefits for those with Autism Spectrum Disorder:

  • Assessment
  • Repetition and Practice
  • Self-Paced Curriculum
  • Controlled Environment
  • Verbal and Visual Cues

These unique features help not only the students with ASD, but also the driving schools who train them. Simulation allows driving schools to assess which students are ready for behind-the-wheel training and which would benefit from further practice. The potential for independent driving will vary because every ASD diagnosis is different, but driving schools will see results that could only come from these updated learning modalities. Virtual Driver Interactive has been helping driving schools address the needs of future drivers on the Autism spectrum with the use of driving simulators. The simulators include several assessment drives, along with an unlimited amount of practice on lessons with varying complexity. The simulator allows the students to work at their own pace while keeping track of areas where they may struggle. This allows the driving school to identify areas of concern and provide additional practice and instruction in those skill sets. Getting a driver’s license is a goal that shouldn’t be out of reach for anyone, and simulation training allows us to empower new drivers and make the road safer and easier for all. 

July 25, 2021

Unsafe Driving Practices Increased During COVID

The Travelers Risk Index recently announced the results of a survey conducted on distracted driving during the COVID crisis. The data shows that drivers feel the roads are safer due to less traffic and are using their mobile devices more frequently while driving. For example, texting or emailing went up to 26% from 19% pre-COVID and shopping online from mobile devices while driving went up to 17% from 8% pre-COVID. Motor vehicle deaths were up 8% in 2020 according to the National Safety Council which may have stemmed from motorists feeling the roads were safer due to less traffic and choosing to engage in unsafe practices such as speeding and using their mobile devices while driving. It's important to note that studies have been done showing that distracted driving is just as dangerous as driving under the influence which is where awareness and training come into play.
Many of today's drivers can benefit from driver training that includes distracted driving. That's where Virtual Driver Interactive comes in. Our One Simple Decision program was designed to modify driving behavior by illustrating the consequences of choices made behind the wheel. A survey conducted on One Simple Decision with the question, "How likely are you to drive impaired in the future?" found that 84% selected 'never' as their response after having gone through the simulation program. One Simple Decision isn't just for teens but also adults and can be a powerful tool in your training toolkit for the drivers in your organization.
  by Heather Anderson, Virtual Driver Interactive  
February 12, 2019

Is Your Driving Simulator a Flip Phone?

Do you know someone who still uses a "flip phone"? I'm sure you do but what does that have to do with driving simulators? Any organization that owns a driving simulator knows that they are not inexpensive. It is only natural to want to use it as long as you can to maximize your investment, right? That's just what the owner of the flip phone says, "I paid good money for this and it still works". Well, simulator training effectiveness has changed dramatically over the years and if your system is older than the iPhone 5 (2013), you are seriously missing out on all the modern features. To make matters worse, your existing simulation vendor (unless it is us) does not provide you with periodic updates for features and fixes!  There are many $10,000+ "flip phone" grade simulators out there running antiquated Microsoft operating systems, non-HD screens and clunky cockpit drive-in movie style experiences for the teens.  If you want students to realize safety is important, then the system should demonstrate that you believe it is too! by Bob Davis, CEO & President of Virtual Driver Interactive
February 4, 2019

Peripheral Vision and Teen Tunnel Vision

I didn't see that coming!"  Famous last words after a crash.  So why is that teens have the best vision and the best reactions but absolutely the worst crash stats?  It comes down to scanning techniques. The more "focused" a person gets the more they tend to stare at a fixed point. Since teens realize they lack experience, they tend to narrowly focus their vision on the car in front of them. Good adult drivers realize that dangers and surprises tend to come from many places that are NOT in front of you: - the pedestrian about to walk out into the crosswalk, - the car approaching the intersection much too fast or - the motorcycle that is about to pass you unexpectedly that you can only see in the rear view mirror. So at VDI we decided that having a very wide field of view (sort of peripheral vision) is really, really important to learning safe driving.   For our simulators, wow, you can look left and right and even "turn your head" to see way down the street. And we measure if you did! When we are done with them they KNOW to look all around, left, right, mirrors, and even behind the car before they get in the car. So from now on they might not see the note you left them about taking out the dog or cleaning up their room, but they will see that pedestrian! by Bob Davis, CEO & President of Virtual Driver Interactive
January 28, 2019

A Driver’s License Doesn’t Prove Competency

It is a common misconception that once teens pass their driver’s license test they have proven they can drive safely.  After all, that's what the test is about right?  Well, no, not even close.  The role of the DMVs, Department of Motor Vehicles, around the country is more about passing the minimum bar, and I mean the minimum amount of knowledge and competency to get your license.  In most states, teens know beforehand the route they will taking during their test.  And many intentionally avoid left hand turns. Really?  If the inspectors thought the teen was safe to drive why avoid left hand turns? Or rain? Or night?  Web-based driver training companies are trying to make it as EASY as possible to get your license. On YouTube you can look up many of the DMV tests state by state and they have all the questions and the answers clearly laid out on video assuring the teens only need to repeat the answers they know are required. Why make it so easy to go out and do the most dangerous thing they'll ever do?  While it might make a parent feel better that their teen has a license - please, please don't consider them fully capable of driving safely! By Bob Davis, CEO & President of Virtual Driver Interactive
January 22, 2019

The “Life Bar”

Because of the way the teenage brain develops, involving teens in something active offers greater chance of achieving higher levels of engagement.

We know that everyone learns better when they are really engaged.  That applies to learning how to learning how to drive as well.   When it comes to "just driving around" even though you may be getting more experience, it still might seem pointless. For the current generation of teens, they've played many games where the length of the challenge is limited by their "Life Bar".  In other words, if you are successful (like not getting shot) then you get to play the game longer. So we thought, WOW, what a great idea for teen driver training. Now, Virtual Driving Essentials and Driving XE, our teen driver training products, have real time "life bars" running across the top of the monitors.  Safe driving earns you more time and making any errors that increase your likelihood of a crash deduct from your bar as they happen. Kids don't care about a score after they are done - they care about their score AS THEY drive. Plus, our company cares about keeping teens safe so the "life bar" holds great meaning to all of us.   By Bob Davis, CEO & President of Virtual Driver Interactive
January 16, 2019

Fleet Management: The Cars or the Drivers?

Fleet Management:  The Cars or the Drivers?

There are many publications, trade shows and job titles that are about "Fleet Safety or Fleet Management". Some years back we thought, "this is great, these people really care about crashes." Well, the answer is "sort of".

It is all too common for "fleet" to mean really only the cost of the vehicle, gas costs, leasing terms and other asset management metrics. I'm not saying those aren't important but they never seem to include the driver involved. Your employee, the one with the family that faithfully does their job every day. Where is the department that takes the same amount of time and attention to the employee as the key "asset" they need to protect? At this point we can divide up a typical large company. HR responsible for the people? Nope, not when it comes to driving. Fleet safety? Nope, they buy, sell, maintain and repair vehicles. Risk management (sounds right doesn't it), no chance except to the extent it affects insurance policies. You would think "legal" would care since multimillion dollar lawsuits are not uncommon in traffic related deaths. Never once hear of them focused on avoiding the crashes that created the liability. Worse yet, companies that DO have some driver training offer it to only those who "drive for the job". These are the same companies that often offer gym memberships; wellness programs; CPR courses and other services that are focused on keeping employees happy and healthy. And yet, a significant reason for an employee to miss work for an extended period of time is related to themselves or their family member being in a car crash.

Where is the driving wellness initiative?

by Bob Davis, CEO & President of Virtual Driver Interactive   Virtual Hazard Detection:  Corporate Fleet Driver Safety Training [embed][/embed]
December 12, 2018

Are Your Simulators Over 5 Years Old?

Driving simulators have dramatically improved over the last several years.  The 1950’s Aetna Drivotrainer simulator (pictured) was a combination of an automobile simulator and a movie designed for behind-the-wheel instruction in driver training classroom.  Believe it or not, even today simulators still exist on the market that use the same concept!  Just project a movie of a highway on a large screen in front of a classroom and have the students “drive” along in their simulators.  While somewhat entertaining, it is certainly does not provide the most engaging user learning experience. Unlike driving simulators of the past, today’s virtual trainers are much more targeted and effective at transferring training in a shorter period of time with far less expense.  Virtual Driver Interactive (VDI) simulators use cutting edge graphics computing power and monitor technology ensuring students are immersed in an engaging training session.  Our software programs showcase the very best combination of learning techniques, features and functions as well as the very latest in graphical engines providing superior visuals. So if you want to train your students in the most effective manner possible, it’s time to update your driving simulator.  That was then and this is now.
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