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5 Virtual Resources That Help New Drivers Hone Their Skills

Learning to drive is an exciting and scary time–especially for the parents of new teen drivers. For many parents, the idea of taking a child out for their first open road drive can actually be a nightmare.

Fortunately, the digital age has provided a wealth of new resources that can help driving students work on their skills without being behind the wheel of a real vehicle. While real driving time is important, it’s not always feasible with busy schedules and the cost of gas. Here are 5 great virtual resources to improve driving skills in a fun way.

1. Driver’s Education Simulator

There are a number of online options to help a new driver get the experience of driving a vehicle without actually needing a vehicle. A driver’s ed simulation experience can be a great learning tool where it’s okay to make mistakes.

Students can choose from a variety of simulators–some are free like the Learn4Good option–and get started. Students can choose an instructor, vehicle, skill to practice or terrain.

Image courtesy of DriversED.com

2. Video Games

While Grand Theft Auto isn’t the best video game to learn how to drive, there are some reputable and fun video games that also teach smart and defensive driving. In fact, in 2009 police chased down an eight-year-old child who reports say learned to drive like a pro solely from playing video games.

Games like Road Ready Teens teaches the skills necessary to drive a vehicle and offers up realistic challenges–and many reputable academic studies have collected data that supports this claim. While playing this game, teens are taught to pay attention to key dangers on the road and can even use a steering wheel in lieu of a traditional game control for the real deal.

3. A Virtual Driving World

Going a step beyond video games, Designing Digitally has created an entire virtual world dedicated to improving and teaching driving skills. It’s a part of Second Life, which many users are already familiar with, and utilizes 3D modeling to create as realistic a world as possible filled with everything from stop lights to bad drivers. The modeling of real-world behaviors is impressive, and it’s a great avenue for teens who are already immersed in Second Life.

4. Left Turn Driving School

This innovative driving school is 100 percent virtual, it’s free, and drivers get a comprehensive lesson on the basics and fundamentals of driving. Remember when driver’s ed was held after school in a stuffy classroom? Now students can take the test-driven aspect of their training from the comfort of their home. Teachers are qualified, helpful, put things in layman’s terms and there’s no fluff.

5. Driver iQ Home

This award-winning software simulates driving in all types of weather conditions from snow to rain. It focuses on driver awareness, avoiding crashes, distraction and observation. A UK product, there’s no surprise that plenty of rain-soaked roads and blustery winters are included in this experience. Since 20 percent of new drivers are in an accident within the first year of driving, it’s important to hone those skills from the beginning.

There’s no substitute for real life experience–but new drivers can get close. And every effort made to instill good driving habits in teens will go a long way in keeping them safe and their insurance rates low. By signing up for a virtual driving lesson, educational session or even video games that offer real-life experiences, students can work on their skills and have fun while doing it.

Remember:  breaking the practice into easily digestible chunks, whether from an app or a game, makes it a little easier to become a great driver.