KOCHI: Getting a driving license for a four-wheeler may no longer be an easy affair, as the government has made rules more strict, to ensure safe driving.
Many prominent driving institutes across the city are gearing up to upgrade their infrastructure. They are setting up simulators to prepare their students. A simulator is a computer-controlled car cabin with controls like a steering, gear, clutch, and brake, which resemble a real-life driving situation via 3D imagery. It responds according to the driver’s inputs. It enables the instructor as well as the learners to choose from a variety of road conditions, climatic conditions and traffic situations.
Jino Kurivila, an instructor at the Maruti driving school, says, “It is easier to teach people using a simulator. They achieve better clutch control, braking judgement and steering control before going for the actual road experience. We usually give five days on it. And it is a great help for beginners, women and the elderly.”
Tackling traffic, changing of lanes, parking, overtaking, encountering vehicles from the opposite direction and so on are the skills you gain when working on a simulator. It also covers situations like a pedestrian crossing the road, a car suddenly backing out from a parking space, an autorickshaw’s sudden U-turn and wrongful overtaking.
Those who have used it have found it very beneficial. “I felt more confident and less distracted on the road after practising on the simulator,” says Lilly Mathew, a student of A2Z driving school, Thoppumpady.
“A small mistake can be very costly, whereas, on a simulator, you do the exercise again and correct your mistakes with repeated practice. Practice is very important.” However Diana Roy from Tripunithura, says that the road and simulator experience are completely different from each other. “A simulator can only gauge the person’s reactions and next move,” she says.
An actual car
One of the leading schools in the city is the Toyota Driving School with their branch in Nettoor. In their simulators, there are features like an instrument panel, steering, and seats of an actual Etios car. A real replica of a car used as a simulator is what makes Toyota different from other driving schools. It also offers extensive local language support for effective training and extensive sessions for both novice and advance drivers.
Toyota has set up a number of driving schools across the country and their future plan is to establish 50 such schools by 2020. M A M Babu Moopan, chairman and managing director, Nippon Toyota, says, “Ours is the first real-car simulator in India with high-definition computer graphics. Using simulators, we can create various road conditions. The highlight is that it has got the direct involvement of Toyota. And we train our students to be the safety ambassadors of our brand on the road because they are the ones who represent us.”
Too many accidents
The accident rate in Kerala has been increasing by 4 percent every year. Simulators can play a significant role in reducing this. Though the government had plans to install driving simulators at all Regional Transport Offices (RTO) across the state, so far, it has only been implemented in the Ernakulam and Kozhikode RTO, with its service limited only to heavy vehicle license seekers.
“We would like to set up simulator in our RTO for four-wheelers, as well, and a request has been sent,” said P H Sadhik Ali, former RTO, Ernakulam.