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Simulator Driver Training

A simulator is a device that places the student in a situation that resembles real driving. The student controls the commands which are the same ones as those of a real car. They see on a screen an environment comparable to what they would see when actually driving (Michel Roche, 1998).

What are the advantages of a driving simulator?

It decreases the anxiety of the student. The training is better than in real and sometimes stressful environments.


It visualises things that one cannot see in a real vehicle. For example, slipping of the clutch.


Because the driving environment is entirely controlled, it makes it possible to concentrate on one teaching objective at one time.

It makes it possible to follow a progression established in advance and to evaluate the assets in a methodical way.


It makes it possible for the student to experience frequent situations that are not safely recreated on the road.


It is without risk and thus authorises the experimentation of dangerous situations.

Driving simulator

The ECA Group simulators provide the driver with 300 km of roading in a variety of locations and variables to provide all drivers a realistic response to these variables:

  • Small town driving

  • Country & open road driving

  • Mountain passes

  • Big city driving

  • Motorways with traffic density - none, medium & high density

  • Weather variations - sun, rain, fog, ice & visibility variables

  • Darkness Training (used in Finland as part of training & the licensing test)

  • Eco Driving to improve fuel efficiency & reduce vehicle maintenance costs

  • Hazard Awareness & Safety training

  • Different vehicles & engine sizes

  • Variable steering & braking aids to increase realism

  • Variable tyre condition & pressure for individual wheels to simulate the effects

  • How different loads effect driving (eg passengers, roof load)

At DriverEd we have a state-of-the-art driving simulator from the ECA Group to train our students.

Here's the stats...



Research shows that students trained on a simulator are up to 66% safer in their first two vulnerable years of driving.



Research shows that these simulators teach students 3x faster than on road only trained peers.



Research shows that speeding infringements are heavily reduced for those trained in a simulator.

Frequently Asked Questions

Simulator training is not new technology. In fact, the ECA Group manufactured the first PC based flight simulators for Airbus in 1986. The ECA Groups first car simulators were introduced in 1994. They remain world leaders are now have more than 20,000 driving simulators in use worldwide. "The ECA GROUP is renowned for its expertise in robotics, automated systems, simulation and industrial processes. Ever since 1936 it has been developing complete innovative technological solutions to perform complex missions in hostile or restrictive environments (ECA Website)."

Raphaël Gorgé, Chairman of the ECA GROUP says "Two of our strongest commitments are to innovate to find efficient and reliable solutions, and to support our customers when they operate our technical solutions"

The question begs, "Why do we not see driving simulators used more frequently in New Zealand?" This largely comes down to the cost of such technology. There are a few simulators operating around New Zealand for Driver Training. The ECA Group simulators give students the closest possible driving experience without actually driving on the road. We are excited to be able to offer you quality sessions on our state-of-the-art driving simulator.

  • How does training in a simulator compare to on-road learning?
    Training in a simulator sets a solid foundation for the transfer of critical skills needed to drive a car safely. Training in a simulator does not replace training in a car but compliments it. By breaking down essential driving skills, one at a time and in a methodical order, simulator training builds higher-level cognitive functions for safe driving. Research carried out by Waikato University in June 2008 called "The 'Frontal Lobe' Project" highlights that a growing consensus among driver trainers and road safety researchers is that a greater emphasis should be placed on these higher-level cognitive functions underlying driving skills. Elander et al. (1993) suggested that accident risk is related to two concepts, driving skill and driving style. Skill is related to controlling the vehicle and responding appropriately in different traffic situations and can be influenced by training and education, whilst style refers to the way drivers choose to drive (habit). Driving style is thought to be influenced by attitudes and beliefs regarding driving and this aspect of driving is another area that we can target with education & training (Elander et al., 1993). ​ Training on the simulator teaches driving style from years of research and development carried out by Nottingham University in the United Kingdom. This differs largely from other simulators where many only increase the number of driver hours and improve actual road knowledge operated as a computer program. Without teaching driving skills and consequences of actions through actual experiences a computer program can only ever have a limited benefit. Our simulators are driven like a car using a real steering wheel, pedals, indicators, blindspot screens and a seatbelt to enable the driver to gain driving skills that create a driving style, not just an experience. It is these skills and experiences that can help to reduce driver accidents.
  • Does the simulator have NZ Roads on it?
    Not exactly. The simulator comes with 300 kilometres of roads which include town, city, country and alpine driving. There are four-lane motorways, busy double-lane roundabouts and more for students to explore and understand. While these roads are not New Zealand specific roads, they have been modified to meet the New Zealand road rules, signage, markings, place names and more.
  • Isn’t it just like a racing game?
    Absolutely not. While you might be looking at a screen you are far from playing a game. Years of research and development has gone into the design and software itself, not to mention the physical simulator itself. The ECA Group started manufacturing world-leading simulators in 1986. They are world leaders and rated the best PC based units in the world. They are currently being used throughout Europe, Britain, USA & Canada, with new markets spreading through Asia & the Middle East.
  • How much does it cost for simulator training?
    Our lessons in the simulator are 60-minutes and cost $70/hr incl GST. We are able to offer the following individual modules without doing the entire programme. The timeframes for these to complete are: Hazard Awareness - 2 hours Eco Driving - 1 hour Darkness Training - 1 hour Simulator Assessment - 1 hour
  • What is the Hazard Awareness Programme?
    Have you heard a saying, "it’s the ambulance at the top of the hill rather than the bottom?" This is it. It is a program that uses both city and country roads with typical hazards associated with both used during the program. We combine it with the Braking & Safety Distances module and the free drive areas, providing an opportunity for putting what they have learned into practice. They are approximately two hours and are done totally in the safety of the simulator. Because the module is fully interactive, drivers learn the consequences of their choices in many emergency situations. During the drive, they experience situations in rain, and varying degrees of visibility. The scenarios are typical hazards that cause accidents resulting in injury & death all over the world and are too common for new drivers. This module increases driver awareness through experience rather than just theory. Research shows that the retention of information gained this way is likely to be retained longer and more accurately. In an emergency situation, they are more likely to remember what to do automatically because they have actually already done it.
  • When & why should I do a Hazard Awareness Programme?
    Unlike the Defensive Driving Course which includes four theory sessions and one practical drive to prepare for the full test and often done after the driver has been driving alone for some time, the simulator includes aspects of the Hazard Awareness program throughout a learner’s training on the simulator. It is recognised that it can take a new driver several years to scan adequately and accurately predict driver behaviour. In 2008 Dr Robert Isler, a senior lecturer in psychology at Waikato University, conducted a study and believes that "hazard perception and risk management skills are functions of the pre-frontal cortex that may be under developed in young drivers. They seem to be critical driving skills, which if trained may assist adolescents to successfully and safely manage the demands of driving (Isler et al., June2008)." Futher, McKenna, Horswill and Alexander (2006) reported that anticipation in driving can be significantly improved by training in the laboratory using video simulation techniques, and that novice drivers could be improved to the level of experienced drivers within only 4 hours of such training. They showed that after hazard perception training there was a significant reduction in risk-taking behaviour with no evidence of an associated increase in confidence. "These studies therefore indicate that skill training in the form of hazard perception/ anticipation training may be a beneficial addition to the training of young drivers. This type of training may improve hazard perception, without exposing them to the dangers of driving and is therefore well worth evaluating. Keating (2007, p. 153) has suggested that: “the difference between having and avoiding a crash is measured in milliseconds, as is the difference between severe and more moderate crashes. This is an interesting paradox: skill acquisition in the driving domain takes a substantial investment of time in order to preserve a few milliseconds in an emergent situation, but it is those few milliseconds gained through more effective hazard detection etc. that are critical.” At DriverEd we are able to provide Hazard Awareness training on the Simulator as part of any driver education, whether the rest of the training is done with us or elsewhere.
  • There is a lot of talk about how bad new driver’s are – just how bad is it?
    Despite years of advertising to increase awareness in the general public and safety campaigns, New Zealand still lags way behind world leaders like Britain and Australia’s accident statistics. Young people now have access to more powerful cars at an earlier stage of their driving, many have a disregard for authority and rules but the one thing that hasn’t changed is that most young people do not believe that ‘it could happen to them’. You only have to glance over the news to see the daily death rates increasing due to vehicle incidents and accidents. With social media, we are able to join Facebook Groups which daily shows multiple incidents in your area. In our local area, Mount Manganui and Tauranga have just been named as 'collision hot-spots' in New Zealand. "According to State Insurance, The Mount had the fourth-highest collision rate in New Zealand over the past 12 months and highest outside Auckland and Christchurch city centres." In 2021 there were 320 deaths on New Zealand roads. If we can educate our students to be safer, smarter more critical drivers, then we want to.
  • I have a disability/ injury that has prevented me from driving- will the simulator be able to help me learn to drive or drive again?
    Everyone is unique and so is their disability or injury. Therefore we can never guarantee that you will be able to drive a motor vehicle on-road, but we can give it our best try. The simulator provides a safe and stress-free environment to maximise learning potential through its graduated learning system. Contact us to discuss how we can support you on your journey. The graduated learning system may also be helpful for people with dyspraxia as the verbal and visual prompts are ideal for people with reading struggles. It isolates each function of driving and builds skills on skill in the correct order in a consistent measured manner. It is a safe place to make the typical mistakes that one does when learning without the serious consequences associated with learning on the road. This builds confidence at the same time as competence. The simulator can be used by people rehabilitating after illness or injury while they are waiting to be assessed or to re-learn certain skills and gain confidence before driving on the road again. The simulator can provide an objective assessment of any areas of concern before on-road training is undertaken.
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