JAA making drivers virtually better
The simulator has been designed for maximum realism. (Photo: Rory Daley)

The Jamaica Automobile Association (JAA) hopes that its driving simulator will lead to safer roads by ensuring better quality driver training.

"We're using our driving simulator for two purposes. First, we are incorporating it into our learner driver offerings [for]... persons learning how to drive. And we also use it for our advanced driver training programme, so we train in defensive driving, evasive driving, and updating different skill sets within driving. So everything driving-related, whether you're just learning or you're an advanced driver, meaning you have your licence [and] been driving for years, we can train you using the simulator," Dael Whylie, Driving Academy manager, JAA, told the Jamaica Observer's weekly Auto magazine.

The JAA's simulator, funded by parent company Jamaica National, is equipped with interactive simulator software and a D-Box motion base.

What users see are physical controls common to the cockpit of any modern vehicle, and a 180-degree virtual view provided by three large monitors.

Sim racer Michen Wallace trying out the realistic nature of the JAA's simulator.(Photo: Rory Daley)

"The simulator has the ability to treat driving in an unbiased way. Currently, when you sit in a vehicle it's a human assessor or an individual accessing your capabilities. That person has their own biases, their own preconceived notions, etc. The simulator takes that way. This is unbiased training. For the simulator, it's either you did or didn't do," Whylie explained.

The simulator is not only able to throw any scenario to the driver but can track every aspect of the driver's behaviour and generate a report at the end. It's able to do all this is realistic manner, with all the audio, visual, and physical feedback to the user without the inherent risks of handling a vehicle on the public road.

"I can assess someone's driving after 20 minutes on the simulator," said Whylie, who believes this methodology, combined with the other benefits, such as the safety a virtual learning environment provides, can help drivers at all levels.

She also notes that companies seeking to train, re-train, or hire fleet drivers, can benefit from the JAA's new simulator as well.

Dael Whylie, Driving Academy manager, Jamaica Automobile Association (Photo: Rory Daley)

"There are different programmes being offered by the JAA. So, depending on the needs of the driver, we would make recommendations on the course type and length."

BY RORY DALEY Auto writer

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