Faced with a high death toll, New Zealand’s eDrive uses the web to improve driver skill
Hamilton, New Zealand, July 8 (JY&A Media) Visitors to New Zealand know that the country is one of the most beautiful in the world—but its roads can be treacherous, often due to poor driving behaviour. Dr Robert Isler has sought to remedy that using a web-based interactive tool called eDrive (www.edrive.co.nz).
In New Zealand, 15- to 25-year-old drivers have the highest death rate in the OECD. In a country of only four million, young drivers caused 800 serious injuries and 122 deaths in 2008. And, in general, driving standards in New Zealand are poor, with 314 deaths in the 12 months to June 29, 2011.
Compared with Wales, which has a slightly smaller population but worse roads, there were only 89 fatalities in 2009—the figure being, per capita, a third of New Zealand’s.
However, New Zealand is blessed with a high internet usage rate, which is where eDrive comes in.
Dr Isler, who has researched road safety as part of his job at the School of Psychology at the University of Waikato, 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.’
The eDrive app works on Flash and has 100 video-based traffic simulations that young drivers can access online. Sitting behind the wheel of a realistic simulated car, complete with speedometer, rear-view mirrors and two side mirrors, a driver is encouraged to be vigilant, detecting hazards, assess risks, and adjust their speed to different conditions. High-resolution imagery makes the eDrive experience particularly realistic, reflective of real-life situations that New Zealand drivers would find themselves in. There are night and day driving scenarios.
Says Dr Isler, ‘Research has shown that novice drivers who practise video-based hazard perception skills on video simulations can reduce their risk when they actually get behind the wheel.’
Dr Isler and his team, who make up eDrive Solutions Ltd. have managed to incorporate international psychological research into the way eDrive functions.
It is particularly aimed at 15- to 19-year-old learner drivers, who can access it for free if they sign up to the Practice programme (www.practice.co.nz). The development of eDrive was funded by the New Zealand Transport Agency and the Accident Compensation Corporation and is sponsored by Suzuki New Zealand and BP New Zealand.
As of August 15, BP Connect will sell the eDrive programme at its outlets in New Zealand, to help improve driver skill for all who get behind the wheel—as older drivers can benefit from having years of bad habits highlighted.
Images can be downloaded from http://jyanet.com/press/photo.htm (password required).
eDrive is a programme which was developed over two years in response to the high road toll on New Zealand roads, with particular focus on young drivers. Research has shown that key skills such as spotting, anticipating and managing hazards while on the road, are crucial to avoiding crashes. eDrive helps train these skills in a safe environment, using video-based real-life traffic scenarios. The videos have been filmed on New Zealand roads, simulating a “road trip” from the Bluff to Cape Reinga. Dr Robert Isler, road safety expert, led a team of dedicated New Zealanders from all over the country to develop the programme, with racing driver Greg Murphy, a strong supporter of positive road safety initiatives, as eDrive’s host. The programme was developed in collaboration with the New Zealand Transport Authority (NZTA) and the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) and is sponsored by BP and Suzuki.
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Dr Robert Isler
T 64 7 823-6960
C 64 27 418-8423
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