Sim­u­la­tor to help drive safety mes­sage

Driv­ing sim­u­la­tor pur­chased for Sar­nia school

The Observer (Sarnia) - - NEWS - PAUL MOR­DEN pmor­den@post­media.com

A state-of-the-art driv­ing sim­u­la­tor is to be in­stalled this spring in a class­room at Northern Col­le­giate in Sar­nia, thanks to an $80,000 gift from Shell.

The project grew out of dis­cus­sions be­tween a teacher and a rep­re­sen­ta­tive of Shell, a Chem­i­cal Val­ley com­pany with a his­tory of in­volve­ment at the Sar­nia high school, said Mark Sher­man, su­per­in­ten­dent of sec­ondary schools for the Lambton Kent District School Board (LKDSB.)

In par­tic­u­lar, they saw the tech­nol­ogy as an op­por­tu­nity for stu­dents at an age when they’re be­gin­ning to drive to learn about the dangers of dis­tracted driv­ing.

“We don’t do driv­ers ed any longer, it’s all pri­vate en­ter­prise,” Sher­man said.

But, he added: “As an ed­u­ca­tor, you al­ways want to try to pro­tect young peo­ple.”

The equip­ment uses tech­nol­ogy de­vel­oped by Vi­rage Sim­u­la­tion, a Cana­dian com­pany sup­ply­ing sim­u­la­tors for driv­ing cen­tres, mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties and truck­ing com­pa­nies.

The sim­u­la­tor of­fers a look and feel said to closely re­sem­ble be­ing be­hind the wheel of a car while nav­i­gat­ing busy high­ways, chang­ing road con­di­tions and ex­pe­ri­enc­ing the im­pact of tex­ting and driv­ing.

“Young peo­ple are dig­i­tal cit­i­zens,” Sher­man said.

“So, for them to have an ex­pe­ri­ence on a driv­ing sim­u­la­tor is very nat­u­ral for them.”

The sim­u­la­tor is ex­pected to be used ini­tially by se­nior stu­dents in trans­porta­tion cour­ses at Northern.

“The hope is to ex­pand it out to other stu­dents at the school, at the se­nior level, and then bring in stu­dents from other LKDSB schools” for train­ing ses­sions, Sher­man said.

It will be the first sim­u­la­tor of its type at a school in the district public school board.

“We have some much smaller, sim­pler driv­ing sim­u­la­tors” used in cour­ses on trans­porta­tion tech­nol­ogy, Sher­man said.

“But noth­ing on the scale of this.”

The gift from Shell cov­ered the cost of pur­chas­ing the sim­u­la­tor, and the school board will pay an­other es­ti­mated $5,000 to $6,000 for wiring and an en­clo­sure, he said.

“We are so ex­cited to part­ner with Northern Col­le­giate on this ini­tia­tive be­cause road safety is of para­mount im­por­tance to Shell,” Karen Miller, Shell Man­u­fac­tur­ing Cen­tre gen­eral man­ager, said in a news re­lease.

“Thanks to this in­cred­i­ble tech­nol­ogy any­one who uses the sim­u­la­tor will learn valu­able lessons that will not only help to make them bet­ter driv­ers, but may even save lives.”

Plans are to in­stall the sim­u­la­tor in early May, and have it en­closed shortly after that.

“We’ll get a chance to trial drive it be­fore the end of the term and that will give the in­struc­tor a bet­ter idea as to how to build it into the cur­ricu­lum,” Sher­man said.

Use of the sim­u­la­tor is ex­pected to fully roll out in the 2017-18 school year.

HAND­OUT/SAR­NIA OB­SERVER

A state-of-the-art driv­ing sim­u­la­tor is set to be in­stalled in a class­room at Northern Col­le­giate. The equip­ment was pur­chased with an $80,000 gift from Shell.

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