Parkes Shire students take simulator for a test drive

IN THE DRIVER'S SEAT: Parkes Christian School students test their skills and knowledge on the driving simulator. Photo: Ken Engsmyr
IN THE DRIVER'S SEAT: Parkes Christian School students test their skills and knowledge on the driving simulator. Photo: Ken Engsmyr

Senior students from Parkes Shire schools have spent time learning about the effects of alcohol, drugs, and distractions on driving.

Trundle and Tullamore central schools and Parkes Christian School have been involved in the latest program brought to the shire by local community groups.

Students participated in training on a driving simulator provided by the Rotary Club of Young in collaboration with Parkes Rotary and Neighbourhood Central.

"We take students in pairs and they experience two training modules on the simulator," said Frank Lincoln of the Young Rotary Club.

"With the 'impaired driving' module, a participant first drives for about five minutes to experience normal driving conditions.

"Then they stop, the simulator screens blur a little, and delays are inserted into braking and steering responses.

"The participant drives again for about five minutes and the difference between normal and impaired driving is compared by means of a statistical report."

Mr Lincoln said the experience provides a powerful demonstration of the effects of drugs and alcohol on driving ability to the students.

"It's an experience you should never try to provide 'for real' with real drugs or real alcohol in a real vehicle on a real road," he said.

WHAT A VIEW: A participants view of the driving simulator. Photo: Ken Engsmyr

WHAT A VIEW: A participants view of the driving simulator. Photo: Ken Engsmyr

"Distraction is demonstrated by asking candidates to read text messages and carry out simple mental tasks while driving.

"They experience how difficult it is to maintain control when distracted."

The program and training are so vital and valued that the Parkes Rotary Club would like to see a driving simulator available to students across the Parkes Shire on a regular basis.

"Neighbourhood Central and the Rotary Club of Parkes have formed a partnership to pursue purchasing a simulator to be based in Parkes," secretary of the Rotary Club of Parkes, Ken Engsmyr said.

He said it would also be available to schools within a radius of 100km from Parkes, for example.

"Trials at local schools with the Young simulator are helping us to determine the demand for a locally-based simulator," Mr Engsmyr said.

He believes there is little doubt about the need for simulator training to compliment other safe driving programs for learner and newly licensed drivers.

"Road fatalities for young drivers make it clear that more stills needs to be done to improve their safety on our roads," he said.

"A local simulator will also be available for programs like seniors driving tests and providing upgrade training for people that for some reason have been disqualified."

"Feedback about the impaired driving experience from a student was 'driving under the influence is not only illegal, it's very difficult'. Point made!"

READ MORE:

What do you think?

Send a letter to the editor by filling out the form below.