Car Driving Simulators For Students, Or: When Simulators Make Sense

There are many benefits to learning to fly an airplane, drive a racing car, or operate some complex piece of machinery. Ideally, you’d do so in a perfectly safe environment, even when the instructor decides to flip on a number of disaster options and you find your method of transportation careening towards the ground, or the refinery column you’re monitoring indicating that it’s mere seconds away from going critical and wiping out itself and half the refinery with it.

Still, we send inexperienced drivers in cars onto the roads each day as they either work towards getting their driving license, or have passed their driving exam and are working towards gaining experience. It is this inexperience with dangerous situations and tendency to underestimate them which is among the primary factors why new teenage drivers are much more likely to end up in crashes, with the 16-19 age group having a fatal crash nearly three times as high as drivers aged 20 and up.

After an initial surge in car driving simulators being used for students during the 1950s and 1960s, it now appears that we might see them return in a modern format.

Learn Or Die

Teenage motor vehicle crash deaths by sex, 1975-2021 (Source: IIHS)
Teenage motor vehicle crash deaths by sex, 1975-2021 (Source: IIHS)

As with many things, there is a big difference between knowing how to operate a vehicle and being capable of dealing with unexpected situations that may occur. Yet even when operating a car in regular traffic there are already many situations that require both knowledge and skill, such as navigating through narrow city streets or hurtling oneself into highway traffic at 120 km/h. While the former is usually done at lower speeds and mistakes generally aren’t fatal, the latter is very much unforgiving, even before considering overtaking other traffic and recognizing dangerous situations like getting too close behind a truck.

In 2020, among US teenagers motor vehicle crashes was the leading cause of death, surpassing both homicide and suicide, even if teenage motor vehicle crash deaths have declined significantly since the 1970s. It was incidentally this increase in teenage car crash deaths starting in the 1950s which prompted the introduction of car driving simulators. Of particular note here is the Drivotrainer, developed by Aetna, which as an insurance company had a financial incentive to promote road safety. The result was a range of simulators, with the Drivotrainer and its siblings using prerecorded film reels for the audiovisual element, and so-called ‘Aetnacars’ which the students sat in to provide them with the tactile experience of a real automobile.

For a long time, the Drivotrainer was considered to be the best way to get students to familiarize themselves with the controls and operating of a car before even getting behind the steering wheel of a real car and setting off into traffic. A demonstration of this can be found in the following 1967 British Pathé video:

Simulated Experiences Are Real

The motion base simulator was used by all 135 space shuttle crews to train for their missions between 1981 and 2011. (Image credit:
The motion base simulator was used by all 135 space shuttle crews to train for their missions between 1981 and 2011. (Image credit:

There are many fields where the use of a simulator is an essential part, whether it’s an electronic device or a physical approximation like the pools used to train astronauts to deal with performing operations in zero gravity. The Space Shuttle had its own simulators, as do commercial jetliners, with simulator time counting towards the total flight time of airline pilots.

In the case of the Space Shuttle, there were three simulators, with the most impressive simulator probably the Motion Base Simulator as it resides on a fully articulated base (hence the name), to provide full haptic feedback as if the astronauts were truly undergoing the mission. This particular simulator can now be found at the Lone Star Flight Museum, along with many other examples of training and simulation equipment that astronauts used over the decades to prepare for missions on the real Space Shuttle.

Baltic Aviation Academy Airbus B737 Full Flight Simulator (FFS) in Vilnius (Credit: Baltic Aviation Academy)
Baltic Aviation Academy Airbus B737 Full Flight Simulator (FFS) in Vilnius (Credit: Baltic Aviation Academy)

Back on Earth, there are literally countless examples of how simulators are an essential part practically everywhere, ranging from the military to industry and of course aviation. Some of us are probably already familiar with the full flight simulators (FFS) that are now part and parcel of any commercial jetliner’s development, training and maintenance programs, as well as the occasional use by the NTSB to simulate certain conditions.

These flight simulators – when certified by the relevant authority – can be used for pilot training, which can include a rookie pilot getting their first lessons and familiarizing themselves with checklists and the basics of flying, navigating and communicating, as well as for experienced pilots to get rated for a new aircraft type, such as when switching from a 737-class airplane to a 787 or Airbus A320. Depending on how advanced the flight simulator is, they can be used for engineering tasks, or even as part of the airplane design process. These days it’s become quite simple to set up a home flight simulator, along with countless other types of simulators, making it both extremely common and very versatile.

The benefits of these simulators should be obvious, as they allow for pilots, drivers and other crew to go through the routines, while being exposed to the widest possible array of situations and emergencies, all without ever risking a real aircraft, space shuttle, or Formula One car. All of which serves to reinforce the dissonance when we look at student car drivers and consider how woefully unprepared they are.

Car Simulators In 2024

The car driving simulator as used by the Swedish test. (Credit: Thorslund et al.)
The car driving simulator as used by the Swedish test. (Credit: Thorslund et al.)

These days, a car driving simulator can consist out of little more than a computer with a decent graphics card plus some displays and the car controls like the steering wheel and pedals. This makes it both a very affordable setup for a driving school, and a highly interactive experience for a student. Questions still remain about the practical uses for such a driving simulator when it comes to teaching students how to drive a car, or filtering out those students who are prone to risky driving.

This is the gist of a recent Swedish study performed by B. Thorslund et al. which was published in the January 2024 issue of Accident Analysis & Prevention. In it, they used a simulator setup as described earlier and pictured here, with a static base and automatic transmission. A group of 70 students were tasked with completing a range of scenarios on which they would be judged, along with a questionnaire that would occasionally pop up to ask them what they thought of their own performance.

What was astounding about the results is that no fewer than 43 out of 70 failed the screening test, while 41 of them passed the subsequent on-road driving test. Of these 41, 71% had previously failed the screening test on the simulator, with of note being that the on-road driving test did not involve many of the scenarios seen with the simulated experience. Meanwhile of the 26 who passed the screening test, 14 would fail the on-road driving test, but for reasons which were not part of the simulator experience, namely level 1 of the GDE matrix, being ‘vehicle control and maneuvering’. Something isn’t carrying over correctly.

Coming To A Driving School Near You?

The major question of whether driving simulators could be useful for driving students would seem to be answered at this point. Unlike the 1950s-era technology with film projectors and a rather limited simulator experience, 21st century simulators are about as close to the real thing without growing wheels and driving off. With thousands of US teens dying on the roads each year, and the rate increasing again since 2019, it could be the ideal teaching tool for students to learn the hazards of the road, and the correct responses.

While this is unlikely to resolve all of the risk factors which the CDC addresses – like seat belt use, speeding and driving while intoxicated – many crashes can be prevented by well-trained reflexes from hours of simulator training. The scenarios used by Thorslund et al. are a good example of just how many different situations can suddenly pop up, ranging from slippery roads, a car suddenly pulling onto the road, to a child running in front of the car out of one’s blind spot. These are all things which you want to run through not just in a theoretical exam, nor while driving a real car, but in a driving simulator, where if you do careen off the iced-over road you can just reset the simulation and try again.

69 thoughts on “Car Driving Simulators For Students, Or: When Simulators Make Sense

  1. I’d be rather worried about the seniors/the elderly.

    Drivers 60+ should be required to go to driving schools every couple of years.
    Otherwise, they should lose their driver’s license.

    Because, reflexes and eyesight of old people start to vain. The brain also becomes less flexible.

    People thinking they’re doing things perfectly are the most dangerous ones.
    They won’t realize their shortcomings even if it’s recorded on film.

    1. In the UK old folks have to show they’re medically fit. My grandmother moved in with us when she had to give up her licence IIRC in her late 80s (and she probably should have stopped a little earlier).

      But they don’t cause as many serious accidents and deaths as young male drivers.

      I’m not sure a simulation would deal with these though. I believe it was Australia had a good strategy to reduce them: something like if you’re under 25, all passengers in your car must pass a breath test, not just the driver. Turns out driving drunk friends makes sober drivers take more risks.

      1. In Australia we now have a requirement in most (if not all) states that drivers cannot have passengers under a certain age while on a provisional license (the one before you get a full license) unless they are immediate family.

        There was never an ‘under 25’ rule.

        Unfortunately we’ve also abolished the requirement for older drivers to have routine medical examinations and introduced a ‘self reporting’ system.

        So you know, one step forward, two steps back….

        1. Not exactly correct.
          In Queensland (Australia) drivers over 75 years of age REQUIRE a medical certificate to renew their licensee for another 1 (one) year only.
          Unsure about all other states and territories but NOT the case in Queensland.

    2. Going by the numbers, the elderly have the lowest accident rate in the US. So I’m super not concerned, I would not make it a priority. We should think about revoking licenses from the worst drivers rather than assuming that high insurance premiums will somehow balance it out.

    3. We need some statistics here. I am trying to recall situation where old person was driving and caused some dangerous situation other than frustrating other drivers with slow ride on Sunday afternoon. Whereas just every day I see young people treating fast and furious franchise as drivers 101. But that is only my experience.

        1. That graph doesn’t describe the frequency, but the occurrance of fatality which almost surely has to do with the driver (and probably passenger’s age and physical state. It appears that the rate of crashes for 80+ years is lower than age groups up to 29 years (see figure 2 – All Crashes) and the rate for 70-79 years is lower than all except 60-69 years.
          I think you’re a lot safer with an older driver…

          That’s what your quoted statistics say.

        2. Looks like 60 is the safest driver you can be. Even 80+ is less than people under 30, so this seems like a pretty unwarranted fear. The increase in fatal accidents is certainly caused by the increased frailty of the driver, so even minor accidents can be life-threatening to an 80+ year old person.

    4. The article mentions pilots and pilot training a lot.
      Pilots (in the US) have to pass a physical and a knowledge and practical flight test every three years, every two years once they’re over some (fairly young) age, and if they fail they can’t fly again until they have taken training and shown they can pass it. Can’t fly safely, aren’t allowed to fly.
      Drivers should have the same thing. We’re killing tens of thousands of people in the US per year in driving crashes. An every three years driving test would not only remove people who are incompetent, it would also reinstill good driving habits in the people who pass the test. Recurring training is important in tasks where failure can result in multiple people getting killed. I’m just as worried about distracted middle-aged drivers as I am about careful but very elderly drivers.

      1. As said above, General Aviation pilots in the USA have to have a flight review every two years with an instructor. Additionally a medical every 5 years (for 3rd class medical) and every 2 years for the same 3rd class medical if you’re over 40. We feel entitled to have a car, and we’ve built our cities entirely for people with cars. We need a culture shift. I’d be happy to prove to the government I can still drive, know new traffic rules just like I do for my pilots license. We need to help shift the car culture away from entitlement and toward a safety mindset… and design cities that don’t suck if you don’t have a car.

    5. “Because, reflexes and eyesight of old people start to vain. The brain also becomes less flexible.
      People thinking they’re doing things perfectly are the most dangerous ones.”

      While there’s some truth in the above, it’s not quick reflexes that make safe drivers on everyday roads, it’s paying attention and using good sense. And newbies think they are doing the right thing.
      Experienced drivers usually, not always, learn to recognize potential bad situations and act to mitigate them before the badness gets a chance to occur. It’s because they’ve “seen it, done that” before in real life. It’s in this regard that simulation could have real utility, experiencing bad situations to learn from. Ideally “we’d” make a training session every so often an enjoyable learning experience but I’d expect a blunt club approach from the Govt.

      FWIW I trained at Bondurant U waaaay back in the day. Probably the best exercise I’ve seen modern advanced driving schools teach is braking and following distance. The student follows the lead car around but in a separate lane. At some random point the lead car brakes hard to a stop. To no one’s surprise the student doesn’t stop in time. The demonstration can have a long lasting learning effect. Not sure that a simulation of this would make the same visceral impression but it’ll likely be better than none.

    6. The worst drivers are in their first 1000 hours.;

      First 2 years, yellow bumpers.
      After 2 years of no tickets or accidents, you can remove the warning tape.
      Some people would be yellow bumpers for life.

    7. You are mixing skills, intuition and experience with ageing (eyesight and reflexes).

      Older drivers accumulate more and more experience and a “driving school” will have zero benefits.

      Incompetent drivers, YES they need re-training now and then. Perhaps they should stop driving at all.

      It is competency not age.

    8. if we had actual good and affordable transportation infrastructure, this would be more accepted. however, when everything requires a car, they’ll pry a license from their cold dead hands, and they’ll drive without one anyway. old people be stubborn like that. uber and expensive taxi services, and busses that turn a 20 minute trip into an hours long trip, will not suffice. speaking from a US based standpoint. Not to mention the fact that many senior citizens still have jobs out of necessity. It would be a non-issue if we could sort out the proper support systems. Also break down of the nuclear family, and families now living too far apart to properly support their elders is common.

  2. From personal experience, Before I started to drive a car, I took a drivers Ed coarse that included driver simulators . They were much harder to drive ( without stalling on the standard version, or the red light coming on ) than I later found a real car to be. During my driving test, a car pulled out in front of me, because of the simulator I knew what to do, and avoided what could have been a serious accident. I had only been driving a real car for 10 days. So I strongly agree with the this story.

  3. I’ve never driven a proper car simulator, but I spent many hours playing Crusin’ USA. Being a video game, I’d do dumb things because there’s no danger of getting hurt, and would be annoyed that the physics model isn’t all that real. One thing that I’d do all the time was jerk into another lane and then quickly rotate the wheel back and forth to stabilize the game car.

    Fast forward a few years, and I’m driving from the SeaTac airport north on I-405, turned a corner going 60mph, and cars are stopped. It’s pretty clear that there’s not room to brake, but I see that the HOV lane to the left is empty. I quickly jerk over to the lane, but I can feel the car oversteering to the left. I pull hard to the right, and then feel it over steering, so I rock it back and forth, just like on the game and the car stabilized. Turns out the physics model on the game was pretty good after all, and probably saved me from a gnarly accident.

      1. That’s funny. I was going to say that I have a friend who drove his real car like he learned how to drift in a video game…

        He’s still alive, AFAIK, so there’s that.

        When you transition from simulation to reality, please do it at the track first!

  4. Dad taught us to drive. On a stick shift of course. And this was out in our industrial park where no one was around. Also taught my kids the same way. No need for ‘expensive’ simulators. Of course they then took Drivers Ed eventually in the summer months and then went and got there permit. Simple as one two three. A lot of cousins on the farm were driving trucks, tractors, and cars earlier they we city folk were. Again no need for simulators in these situations anyway.

    1. For the folks that live in a city, their options of empty roadways are limited to large parking lots or driving an hour out of town. Which is less feasible.

      Real life experience with a real car on “real” roads is best, but it’s not possible for most people.

      Even if we built a training course just for this, it would handle less than 10k students per year.

    2. One advantage of a simulator is that you can run through dangerous scenarios like losing and recovering control of the vehicle. I guess you can also do that in a real car on a closed course but that sounds like it would be more expensive than a simulator.

  5. The simulators are best at the parts that they’re not necessary for, like feeling out the controls. (You can sit in a parked car and use your imagination for that, or go around a parking lot.) They are really not much more useful than a visual interactive explanation when it comes to many situations you may encounter. You can learn about various operations in traffic, and tie them to your actions – such as learning that a roundabout works a certain way, and this is what to look for when navigating one, and if you miss your road you had better go around a second time, for instance. But you still need to take real ones to actually begin forming practical skill with them. Like a deer in the road – if you’ve got an empty road or the like, you may consider practicing by having someone in the passenger seat tell you ‘stop, deer!’. Of course there is some risk, but it’s worthwhile.

    To drive well in general, you need to train your subconscious to understand what you’re feeling, in terms of vibrations and accelerations and the things you see and hear in 360 degrees. Even VR could only help a bit. I know when I was learning to drive, I had to be in control of the vehicle at highway speed multiple times before my brain could adjust, despite having played racing video games before, and tying in all my senses was very important. Nothing at slower speed or with a simulated speed would do the trick.

    Plus a lot of simulators are really badly set up. I tried one out for the first time in college; it had been set up for an anti-drunk-driving program, and I found the easiest way to control the car was to speed and drift everywhere. Somehow, I don’t think that was what they intended.

  6. Maya Posch is wrong when she writes “There are many benefits to learning to fly an airplane, …. Ideally, you’d do so in a perfectly safe environment, even when the instructor decides to flip on a number of disaster options and you find your method of transportation careening towards the ground, … mere seconds away from … wiping out itself ….”

    Simulators be damned: do it for real! Glider pilots are put in exactly that kind of position before they are allowed to go solo – at 14 years old! My daughter went solo years before she was allowed to drive :)

    They have to repeatedly demonstrate they know how to
    (1) to recover from engine failures on takeoff [1]
    (2) to spot the signs that an aircraft is about to “depart from controlled flight”
    (3) to cause that and recover from it[2] (10s later they would become strawberry jam in a crumpled aircraft!)
    (4) to be able to deal with it when they are doing a perfectly reasonable approach, the instructor puts them in a stupid position and attitude and says “get out of this and get us back safely”. Don’t forget: you have to get that right first time!

    [1] neat video, provided you “swipe left” so you are looking along the wing
    [2] from quite high up
    here’s a 10yo girl flying the aircraft

    1. One of the best things I learned from gliding that transfers straight over to driving is using your dirty canopy to judge your glideslope. In a car, you put a spot on your windshield on the car in front of you. If the car goes down relative to the spot you are getting closer/ going faster than the car, if the car goes up you are slower… Of course it doesn’t work when changing grades, but still invaluable for judging how your distance is changing, keeping a safe follow distance, how hard you need to brake, etc.

      1. Huh. I just use the distance between the tail lights of the cars in front of me. It’s a distance measure that gets easier to do in the dark. It’s more subtle than “spot goes down I slow down”, but I find it works really well.

    2. I hope you were mostly joking with that statement, especially in light of the recent string of private pilots and students (with instructor in the other seat) ending up as the subject of an NTSB air crash investigation.

      Yes, if you learn to fly in a real airplane, it provides you with a a lot of real experience, and you can practice the thrill of surviving a stall with real g-forces pushing blood through your body. But experience isn’t worth anything if you end up pancaking yourself due something simple and easily avoidable. By running through those scenarios in a simulator first and getting familiar with the checklist items, plus establishing muscle memory, you massively increase the chance of a student getting their pilot licence.

      There are just too many things which can go wrong while flying where you don’t have those few extra seconds to think about how to solve it, or even for an instructor (or PNF) to jump in and save the day.

      1. No joke. It is real. It is standard operating procedure.
        It is necessary, because it is likely that you will encounter “eventualities”
        Simulators are insufficient, period.
        Can I emphasise that :) and do look at the short videos.
        (For something more extreme, see the bottom of this reponse.)

        Yes, my daughter was demonstrating she could cope with engine failures, spins, dealing with the unexpected before going solo. If she could convince the instructors she could cope with all those, she wouldn’t have been sent solo. Period.

        She has experienced real launch failures (and worse). She has spun down 3000ft simply to lose height quickly.

        I have accidentally entered a spin, because gliders climb fastest just above the stall point and there was a surprise gust.

        I have accidentally entered a spiral dive (which is actually more dangerous since you can pull the wings off), and recognised it by g forces building up. Simulators don’t help there!

        It is, however, regarded as bad form to deliberately enter a spin below 1000ft, since when fully spinning you are descending at 100ft/s.

        The legal minimum age for solo flight is 14yo. The 14yo solo pilots that I know are all delightful people who are mature beyond their age. Search yoootooob for 14 year old glider pilot, and you will see many first solos.

        No, a simulator cannot give you the zero/negative G sensations of recovering from a cable break, nor the sensations that warn you are about to enter a spin, nor when pulling 3g in a tight turn while barrelling upwards at >1000ft/min. I guarantee you that you would not recover from an accidental spin if you had not practiced them before. I still remember my first spin 50 years later!

        OK, now for something a little more extreme: a 14yo winning national gliding acrobatic competitions…
        “14 year old British pilot Robbie Rizk wins global aviation award

        Robbie won the title of Advanced National Champion in Glider Aerobatics when he won the British Aerobatic Association competition this June. ”

        And this is a *little* of the kind of thing that entails…
        And a TV segment

      2. There is an English expression “flying by the seat of your pants” meaning sensing the environment and instantly reacting instinctively. Normally that expression relates to a.journey/holiday/project – but glider pilots *know* it isn’t an abstract concept.

        I see you (Maya) are in Germany. That means there are plenty of opportunities for having a trial glider lesson. I recommend everybody should consider a short trial lesson (winch launch not aerotow) as a “bucket list” experience.

          1. Seat of your pants means that you can feel when the sky is sucking you up like a homesick angel, or spitting you out in disgust, whether to turn left or right and how hard.

            In a glider cable breaks (i.e.engine failures) occur with monotonous regularity, so you really need to recognise them instantly. Most glider pilots never experience one in a simulator, and it doesn’t matter.

            The first sign is a negative acceleration and floating in your harness, which you won’t experience in a simulator.

            In addition, the recovery *requires* flying at zero g (so the wing can’t stall), i.e. If the mud floats in front of your face you have got it right, but if it plasters itself over the canopy then you been too enthusiastic. Please tell us how you can get that right in a simulator.

            The other standard form of engine failure (sky saying “bugger off”) requires accurate judgement of height, crop condition, and spotting power cables – and simulators are crap for that.

            Summary: practical experience is necessary, and simulators aren’t much good for key aspects.

    3. +1 for glider pilots!
      I got my glider pilot license and never once got in a sim. There were some decent ones for gliders but they were expensive and the controls were also nearly bespoke and expensive. I spent the money on instructors and tow fees.
      That said, the number of things that can go wrong in a motor less plane is a lot less than in a power aircraft so the emergencies to practice are a lot less.
      Gliders are slow, graceful, safe, and are flown for pure sport instead of lying to yourself that a hamburger at a neighboring airfield was worth the $250 worth of avgas or that you really need to get home so you take off into crappy weather.
      At the glider port if the weather was bad for flying I’d spend the time sitting outside enjoying the quiet and occasionally smoke a cover with the chief tow pilot, a WWII bomber pilot. I learned a lot not just about flying but life.
      I’m still alive BTW.

      1. “Gliders are slow, graceful, safe, and are flown for pure sport instead of lying to yourself that a hamburger at a neighboring airfield was worth the $250 worth of avgas or that you really need to get home so you take off into crappy weather.”

        Just so :)

        Allegedly when glider pilots convert to powered.flying, they have.two mental blocks.

        The first remember they can fly straight and level. The second find some way of staying awake.because it is so damn boring :)I

        You can tell a glider pilot “I hope you have some pleasant surprises up there”. You can’t say that to a powered pilot since every surprise is, by definition, unpleasant.

        1. My roommate in college was a CFI/commercial pilot with this own plane. I had every opportunity to learn to fly power on the cheap and did a lot of power flying anyway. I elected to get my glider license instead and I regret nothing.
          I’ve met a number of pilots that flew a glider on a whim, immediately got their endorsement and never flew SEL again.
          To those knocking lack of sim flight training- if your non-pilot self is so sure that anything but tons of sim training is a recipe for fatality, I can’t help you. Sorry you are missing out on such a cheap, sublime and safe pastime. But maybe please temper your opinions unless you have first hand experience like some of the other commenters here.
          I’d liken it to surfing but instead of riding water you are riding air.

  7. I used one of those Drivotrainer-like simulators as late as 1982. The film was in color, though. On the negative side, you have almost no feedback or sense of how your actions should correspond to what you’re seeing. On the positive side, it does present you with several scenarios where you really need to focus on what’s going on, and provide good experience in that way. A computerized system these days would seem far superior, even without motion feedback. I think having a couple of actuators in the seat, even with limited motion range, could add a lot to the experience.

  8. When I was an early teen I took a day long defensive driving course at a racetrack taught by race instructors. They had a wet skid pad, a big cart thing the car sat on where they could make it over and under steer at will at like 15 (real) mph to simulate 75mph. Plus all kinds or reaction and decision drills . They also pulled the fuses for the ABS and we could see difference between stopping with and without ABS. We also got to flog the crap out of the cars on a motor cross course and actually see real understeer and stuff. The instructor also took us around the track at full speed which was a riot.
    I don’t remember how much it cost but was amazing to learn the limits of a car. However much it cost was relatively quickly offset by decreased insurance rates for having taken the course.
    If you have new /teen drivers do this. That’s what I’m saying.

    1. Such skid pan experience is the nearest car drivers will get to experiencing a spin in an aircraft.

      Spinning a glider (warning signs, entering, recovering) is taught before the first solo flight. One of the three flights immediately before soloing at my club was, from 1500ft, spin and recover, spin and recover, spin and recover, land. The last spin entry should not be below 1000ft.

      I wish all car drivers were taught what a car feels like when it is near “departing from control” due to sand, ice, leaves, etc. There would be fewer flowers on (and repairs to) a bridge’s railings near me.

      The experience gained in a simulator is of zero use when entering your first spin :)

      1. “The experience gained in a simulator is of zero use when entering your first spin :)”
        Totally agree.
        Glider training is unique though. I’d argue it is very helpful for transition to SEL but maybe not the other way around. I guess this is more of a comment for the non-pilots-
        In gliders when coring a thermal you can be in a 2g (60deg bank) turn only a couple knots above stall. This is such a normal part of flying sailplanes (as is stalling /spin and recovering from this) that it barely warrants comment and obviously should be well practiced during training and after, frequently. But this is soooo not a normal thing to be doing in a powered aircraft I can see how it seems insane from an outside perspective.
        Other stuff in gliders that is rarely/never done in powered flight: we fly in formation (on tow and in thermals with others aloft), fly close to terrain (ridge flight), fly to where the birds are, are prepared and equipped to “land out” in a field or uncontrolled landing site and obv every landing is unpowered with no hope of a go-around.
        Because of all of the above, the flight planning and energy management is what flying gliders IS. Stall/spin at altitude is no problem. But before that you had to enter thermal at appropriate altitude instead of abandoning flight and landing, made sure no other gliders were below you, or that if you stall you don’t end up in the trees etc etc. this is the part that can be screwed up and become less than safe and the part that separates “good” pilots from bad. Decision making. Anyway thanks everyone.

        1. We are in violent agreement :)

          I just wish more people realised that we aren’t supermen. We are electronic engineers, plumbers, farmers, housewives — and people for which that is several years in the future.

          I did wonder about mentioning that we are taught to do loose formation before going solo, but I didn’t think people would believe it. Whereas powered pilots see another aircraft and avoid it, glider pilots see another glider circling and think “ooh, let’s go and play together”.

          Thus early solo pilots can find themselves formation flying because another pilot decided to come and join them in the thermal.

          And then there is “rockpolishing” on ridges, eyeballing sheep as they whiz past at 60mph :)

  9. My children did not like this, but the statistics my insurance company gives me clearly show that every year they wait to get their license the likelihood of an accident goes down measurably. Therefore, my kids got the following:

    1) delay of learners permit until 16.5
    2) 12 hours professional training ($$$)
    3) 40 hours of parent-led training (including 10 at night)
    4) delay of license until 18.

    They also did get unofficial training by driving on the farm.

    1. Older means more mature and hopefully through their ‘drink till you projectile vomit’ phase.

      They are still a hazard for their first 1000 hours behind the wheel, but at least they aren’t learning to drink at the same time they are learning to drive. All the kids that I knew that died driving before 20 were drunk as skunks.
      Europe has this right, drink first, drive later. Hard driving tests.

      I bet there is an age where, if they haven’t learned to drive by then, it starts getting worse.
      That view is colored by the many people in CA that didn’t learn to drive till they got to the USA. They are simply awful drivers. If you see a middle aged female Chinese driver in a German car, driving with rectal/cranial inversion, best to just run your car into a tree. Less damage.

  10. The chart “Teenage motor vehicle crash deaths by sex, 1975-2021” is an interesting statistic. But the question is, out if how many teens driving and how many miles? In a vacuum it could be good or bad. If that is with 10x as many drivers, then it’s pretty good. Also that is deaths and not accidents. It is hard to argue that driving has improved if there were more accidents and death rate only went down due to safety advances (seatbelt laws, crash safety structures, crumple zones, airbags, padded dash/steeeing wheel, radial tires, better tire technology in general, anti-lock brakes etc etc.). Some of those big drops seem to coincide with that or recession/gas crises.

    I’m glad they might do driving simulation. But another option might be a ‘tiny town’ with golf carts that have extra bumpers.

    A simulator seems inherently fake to me, I’m really big on feeling the inertia change to mark my reality. Not saying it can’t build some ‘muscle memory’, just that it will still be very different than real life.

    1. “I’m glad they might do driving simulation. But another option might be a ‘tiny town’ with golf carts that have extra bumpers.”

      Actually, when I was growing up the school district I lived in had a “tiny town” for driver’s ed… with Buicks provided by the local dealership and a “control tower” where the instructors could do 2-way communications with each of the student drivers. Alas, they got rid of it about 7 years ago.

      1. Eh. No. I had zero interest in alcohol as a child or teenager. The smell of most alcoholic drinks is simply disgusting.

        I had no interest in being drunk – I saw enough of drunk people that I didn’t think it looked all that fun. Do stupid shit, puke, do more stupid shit, break your neck diving into shallow water, break leg (or worse) driving a motorcycle drunk, just be an asshole while drunk.

        I was well over 21 before I tried a beer – never drinking that crap again.
        I learned to drive when I was 16.

  11. Over here, you have to attend a night driving class for your license, since it was summer when I got my license and it wouldn’t get dark at reasonable hours, I got to do mine in a simulator.
    It was something of a PS1/PS2 game where you drove on a straight road and the game commented on your use of the long beams, once the instructor left for an half hour smoke break I tried things like throwing the gear in reverse at 200km/h. The game allowed that but the engine audio started clipping and the speedometer started running full circles in reverse

  12. “Teenage motor vehicle crash deaths by sex”…

    I always knew that having sex while driving isn’t safe, it’s neither safe driving nor safe sex…

    Sorry, couldn’t help myself 🤣

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