Learner motorists to undergo compulsory simulator training
They will experience scenarios based on local roads and risky situations before they can take practical test
Driving while drunk, avoiding cyclists in blind spots or objects falling from a lorry - these are some scenarios that learner motorists can expect to encounter during simulator training.
From Monday, all new learner drivers (Class 3 and 3A) and riders (Class 2, 2A and 2B) must undergo this compulsory training before they are allowed to book their practical test, the police said last Saturday.
Learners must negotiate various scenarios on the simulator, based on the top 10 causes of traffic accidents here that often result in injuries.
These include high-speed expressway cornering, cyclists in blind spots and driving or riding in wet weather conditions.
They were derived from police statistics, such as the 501 accidents involving cyclists last year.
The compulsory simulator training comes after a seven-month trial and is available at the ComfortDelGro Driving Centre in Ubi, Bukit Batok Driving Centre and Singapore Safety Driving Centre in Woodlands.
In a media preview of the simulator training at ComfortDelGro Driving Centre yesterday, Deputy Superintendent Liew Mei Hui of Traffic Police said: "The simulator training provides learning motorists the opportunity to practise defensive driving or riding in a safe and controlled environment.
"We hope that the simulator training will better prepare our learner motorists to react when they encounter dangerous or risky situations on the roads."
The simulator training consists of three modules - the first and second feature 10 scenarios in total, and the third features hazardous and dangerous situations, such as a tree branch falling onto the road. Each module lasts 15 to 20 minutes.
All learners applying for a Class 2B, 3 or 3A licence must complete a minimum of five practical lessons before booking the simulator training.
ComfortDelGro Driving Centre's senior chief instructor, Mr Yussof Bari, said learners have given feedback that the simulator training helps them in their practical driving lessons.
He said: "In real-life driving, there are certain things that we cannot simulate, like foreign objects on the road, wet weather, or sudden bad behaviour of other drivers. But in the simulator training, we are able to configure them for the learners to exercise."
For example, the simulator screens will turn dark to indicate bad weather, and learners are expected to turn on their windscreen wipers and headlights.
Another advantage is that the scenarios are geo-specific, so they can replicate actual roads in Singapore, some of which are accident-prone, said Singapore Safety Driving Centre operations manager Gerard Pereira.
"Some simulators just have random scenarios for users, but this simulator will give the students a lot of exposure because it is created specially for Singapore roads," he added.
"In real-life driving, if you don't encounter the scenario, the student will not be able to learn from it."
Mr Pereira also said in the future, more scenarios - such as the inclusion of personal mobility devices - can be added for corporate clients such as delivery drivers and riders who go regularly for a refresher course.
Civil servant Joshua Chan, 24, who passed his driving test a month ago, feels the controlled environment of a simulator would give learners extra space to learn.
"On the roads, your attention is divided among many things, like people jaywalking and oncoming cars," he said.
"There are fewer stressors in a controlled environment, so learners would be able to focus on a single mistake and how it happened, which can help them avoid a repeat in real-life situations."
Driving simulator training provides an eye-opening experience
About 10 minutes into my drive, my car crashed into a wooden plank on the road.
I had not seen it in time, and what surprised me was the considerable jerk I felt from the impact of the collision.
Just as well then, that the accident was part of my hands-on experience of a driving simulator at the ComfortDelGro Driving Centre in Ubi yesterday.
And as if to emphasise that I had messed up, an "accident" sign flashed across the screen.
In another scenario, I failed to slow down in time while driving through a sandy patch at a bend. My "car" skidded and swerved, and even tilted sideways at an angle after a series of bumps.
From Monday, all new learner motorcyclists (Class 2, 2A and 2B) and drivers (Class 3 and 3A) must undergo compulsory training on the simulator before they can take the practical test.
While the simulator felt similar to an arcade machine, I needed to be extra cautious to avoid the various obstacles that randomly appeared before me.
It was surprisingly realistic, with a virtual instructor telling me what to do as I drove.
Also useful was the playback of my mistakes. An aerial view of the scenario and a replay of the "accident" are shown on the screen, with explanations and learning points.
I also got to experience what it feels like to drive while drunk - the screen became blurry to mimic poor vision, and the simulator reacted more slowly to my actions. It was not long before I had an "accident".
Poor driving etiquette such as not signalling when turning or changing lanes will also earn you a reminder from the "virtual instructor".
Though I have had my driving licence for two years, my first experience of the simulator was an eye-opener. I am certain learners will benefit as well.