GO Rentals partners with Kiwi company to upskill drivers
GO Rentals today unveiled the nation’s first driving simulator designed to replicate the on-road experience for rental car drivers, in a proactive move to improve driver skills and lower the number of crashes nationwide.
Designed and developed by Dunedin business CoDrivr, the simulator is the brainchild of New Zealand Rally Championship driver Rhys Gardner and has been three years in the making, with big ambitions to roll out simulators across the country in partnership with rental vehicle companies, airports and regional tourism operators.
International research and safety experts have heralded driving simulators as a highly effective way to prepare drivers to handle unpredictable or safety-critical experiences and learn from mistakes in a forgiving environment.
GO Rentals General Manager, James Dalglish, says that while the simulator is set to have huge benefits for international visitors, New Zealand licence holders will also be able to gain extra experience on challenging roads before they get behind the wheel.
“Our roads have a reputation for being as challenging as they are scenic, and for many drivers, the adjustment to different conditions, formats and topography around the country can be a formidable experience,” said Mr Dalglish. “We’re committed to instilling confidence and capability into all drivers, not just those visiting from overseas.”
Ministry of Transport data from the 2017 Overseas Driver Crashes Report showed that overseas drivers (those with an overseas drivers licence) were involved in 24 (8%) fatal traffic crashes, 114 (5%) serious injury crashes and 506 (7%) minor injury crashes in 2016. In comparison, in total in New Zealand that same year there were 286 fatal crashes, 2,099 serious injury crashes and 7,583 minor injury crashes, indicating that Kiwi drivers also need upskilling when getting behind the wheel.
The report also showed that in about a third of crashes where an overseas driver was at fault, one of the factors that contributed to the crash was the driver failing to adjust to New Zealand rules or conditions. The other factors contributing to overseas driver crashes tended to be the same as those for New Zealanders, such as the driver losing control or failing to give way or stop.
Barry Kidd, CEO at the Rental Vehicle Association of New Zealand, applauds the introduction of the driving simulator as a new technique to improve driver skills.
“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,” said Mr Kidd. “Being able to experience New Zealand roads in a simulated environment will better prepare drivers for New Zealand roads and conditions.”
Simulation inventor Mr Gardner denies that simulation could be a silver bullet for turning the tide on New Zealand’s road toll, but is confident that it can make a major difference.
“How else can you practice on a road and learn better skills with zero risk? We know from our research that some of our visitors have never seen a stop sign before arriving in New Zealand. Missing a stop sign in a simulator might give you a bit of a fright, but the risk of injury is zero. Driving straight through a stop sign in real life can easily be fatal.”
The driver simulator is located at GO Rentals’ Queenstown branch with additional simulators expected to be in other branches within the year.
Launched in 1999, GO Rentals started with only a handful of vehicles and one location. 19 years later, GO Rentals has the largest independent car hire fleet in New Zealand with a huge selection of late-model vehicles to suit every kind of road trip. Multi-award winning customer service staff and systems ensure drivers enjoy their hire experience every time.
As the only car hire company in the country to be awarded consecutive Qualmark Gold status for sustainable business practices and the winner of the Canstar Blue Customer Satisfaction Award 2018 with a clean-sweep across all categories, GO Rentals continues to lead the industry in sustainability, innovation and driver experience.
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