The training of basic driving skills in a car driving simulator is something that distinguishes the good from the bad simulators. In most driving simulators, normal driving as in a regular car is promoted. In a number of car driving simulators, the trainee drives through a virtual environment and encounters some traffic while he is free to drive his own route. It is doubtful whether this has any advantage over regular traditional driver training in a learner car with an instructor.
What really works in a simulator is the structured training of specific driving skills in a driving simulator, mainly because this is almost impossible to do in a real car in the real world. When driving on public roads, there are always distractions and unpredictabilities and circumstances that require attention that detract from practicing single driving tasks.
Car driving tasks can be distinguished into:
- Operational tasks: this is primary vehicle control, steering, gear shifting, use of clutch, accelerator and brake
- Tactical tasks: speed control and lateral position control in terms of safety margins. For example, driving at a safe speed in a curve, slowing down when the road narrows, driving at a safe headway during car following, safe lane changing, starting to decelerate in time when approaching a traffic light, etc.
- Strategic tasks: route choice and way finding.
Operational tasks are easy to automate by simply doing it a lot. When these tasks are automated they require almost no attention and then more attentional resources are available for the more safety-related tactical tasks. Strategic tasks, and mainly way finding, require a lot of conscious attention as any one knows who is searching for the destiantion in an unfamiliar town. But this task is supported by navigation systems ,so in practice the contribution to overloading the driver has been diminished greatly.
In the Carnetsoft driving simulator, the driver training starts with automation of operational tasks : steering is automated, gear changing, lane changing, starting and stopping. After that the tactical tasks are automated: turning left, right and driving straight on at intersections, entering and leaving highways, and negotiating roundabouts. In these tasks visual scaning and mirror checking is very important. And then when these basic tasks have been practiced sufficiently so that they require less attention, all tasks are integrated in a series of lessons that focus on specific driving environments, such as rural roads, villages, motorways and highways.