Driving simulator launched to help foreign drivers

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Words: Nile Bijoux
2 Aug 2018

GO Rentals Queenstown has launched New Zealand's first driving simulator to give foreign visitors a chance to drive Kiwi roads without any risk of harming themselves or others.

The simulator, CoDrivr, was created by New Zealand Rally Championship driver Rhys Gardner, who told the Otago Daily Times it was tough to balance making the sim driveable but still challenging.

It isn’t compulsory for rental drivers to use the simulator but those who do will get the chance to practise on routes such as the Crown Range Rd.

Running a stop sign might be scary in the simulator but it’s a great deal better than running one in real life.

The project is independently funded and Mr Gardner said he was looking for other funding options. ''We are looking for partners and we think the Government has a role in helping with this as well.''

Learner drivers, as well as rental car users, could benefit from the technology, which could help reduce the rate of teenage crashes in New Zealand. GO Rentals general manager, James Dalglish, agreed, saying: ''It's a great piece of Kiwi innovation. There could be some fantastic benefits across many industries.''

Tourists coming from overseas to drive on New Zealand roads have been intensely grilled over recent years, with 2017 Ministry of Transport data showing that people with an overseas driving licence were involved in 24 fatal traffic crashes in 2016, comprising 8 per cent of all fatal crashes that year. A further 114 overseas drivers were involved in crashes that resulted in serious injuries and 506 involved in minor injury crashes over the same time period.

Barry Kidd, CEO at the Rental Vehicle Association (RVA) of New Zealand, said the initiative will ''better prepare drivers''.

''The RVA welcomes the addition of GO Rentals simulator, which complements other driver safety initiatives the industry has in place to make overseas drivers aware of new driving conditions and rules.''

More simulators will be installed at other GO Rentals branches across the country over the next six to twelve months.

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