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Kia Motorvation expands driver training presence

Have a steer: The Kia Motorvation high-tech driving simulator is designed to re-create real driving conditions.

Kia and Motorvation team up to create mobile driver training centres for schools

Kia logo6 Jul 2011

KIA AUSTRALIA has announced it will its expand its existing support for Motorvation, which has been providing driver training to Victorian school students through the Kia Young Drivers program for the past two years.

The expansion will see sophisticated driving simulators mounted on hydraulics fitted to two specially designed buses that will travel to schools throughout Victoria and New South Wales.

Motorvation recently took delivery of the advanced motion simulators, two of which will be fitted to each bus.

Each mobile training centre will cost around $500,000 with the two machines fitted, and Motorvation hopes to eventually have one bus up and running for each state.

The organisation also has a fleet of five Kia Rio vehicles that it uses as part of its driver training courses, but the buses are designed to provide a realistic learning environment without the real-world risks associated with being behind the wheel.

At a recent presentation in Melbourne, Kia Motorvation co-principal and chief instructor Geoff Fickling talked about the fact that the 17-25 age segment is the only one in Australia in which the road death rate is increasing.

 center imageMr Fickling – who has competed in motorsport and done precision driving for films and television – also talked about the need to address the ‘panic response’ often felt by inexperienced drivers in emergency situations.

“When you panic, it’s a known thing that you actually freeze,” he said. “Obviously the worst thing you can do in an emergency situation is panic, you’re not going to be able to do anything because you’ll be frozen solid.”

Despite appearances, however, the Motorvation course is not simply about providing advanced driver training. Rather, it seeks mainly to address overconfidence in young drivers by changing their attitude on the road.

The Motorvation program argues that simply arming a young person with more skills behind the wheel, without changing their innate attitude, is like pouring fuel on a fire.

“Kia Motorvation does not seek to increase skills, said Mr Fickling. “(It) focuses mainly on achieving an awareness of thoughts about driving that are often unconscious… If you don't understand how you think, you can't change what you do.” “Extreme care is taken to avoid creating a false sense of overconfidence in young drivers during the hands-on driving component.”

GoAuto got behind the wheel of the simulator at the recent launch in Melbourne, and while the system needs a few tweaks to make it a more accurate re-creation of a real car – namely its sharp brake feel and excessive acceleration – it promises a safe environment in which to hone road skills and awareness.

The program we were shown tested a driver’s ability to hold a steady speed, gauged brake timing and cornering speeds and challenged the driver’s reflexes while they underwent distraction from the instructor.

The most difficult part of the test required the driver to hold the vehicle at a steady 70km/h on a straight piece of track, then turning and braking sharply in the direction indicated by a flashing light, before coming to rest in a small parking space.

Nobody among those present – including assorted media representatives and several students who had recently taken the test at school – were able to successfully navigate the tricky test.

Indeed, turning quickly enough while coming to a rest in the narrow bay seemed almost beyond the reflexes of anybody this side of Mark Webber.

Motorvation says it plans to make adjustments to the simulators so they feel more like a real car before the buses begin rolling.

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