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Virtual Reality Driver Training Hits The Road In Northland

Northland Road Safety Trust has bought two mobile virtual reality driving simulators to help young, at-risk Northlanders get driver’s licences.

And the advocacy group has teamed up with local training company People Potential, Blue Light and other driver training providers in Kaipara and Whangārei in the hope of helping hundreds more Northlanders safely learn the correct driving techniques every year to keep safe on the region’s roads.

NRST Road Safety Education Programmes Manager Ashley Johnston says keeping people safe on Northland roads is extremely important.

“The better prepared people are, the safer they can be on our roads. We have an obligation to nurture and protect our young people and these CoDriVR simulators will be a big asset to Northlanders in years to come.

“The simulators will assist nervous drivers before they get on the road with driving mentors. It’s a really good tool to build awareness of the need to look at your mirrors, the proper use of indicators and your positioning on the road because the graphics of New Zealand roads that you see in the goggles are extremely realistic – it is like you are in a car on the road.

“The simulators are particularly helpful for people whose parents or grandparents don’t have the time to give driving lessons.”

Johnston says NRST will assess in 2024 whether more simulators are needed in the North.

Volunteer community driving mentor Murray Neighbour has been helping young Northlanders with driving practice to help them gain their restricted and full licences so they can have access to employment, trades training and tertiary study.

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“This innovative technology is an amazing way for young people to get practise driving before they actually get on the road. It is such a safe way of practising and helps people build their confidence in the safety of an indoor environment without having to worry having anything but virtual cars on the roads they can see in their goggles as they drive,” says Mr Neighbour.

People Potential Managing Director Andrea Ross says her company has always recognised the enormous difference a driver’s licence can make in someone’s life.

“It breaks down social and physical barriers to accessing employment or study so they can get ahead in life. All our students get the opportunity to get their licences. And because of the generosity of Ashley and her team at NRST, we are lucky enough to now have two state-of-the-art virtual reality simulators right here in Northland.

People Potential has had a long-term relationship working with Northland Road Safety Trust to help young at-risk Northlanders get their driver’s licences and says the simulators allow learning to happen without anxiety or the cost of a real car.

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