Xbox game simulates real-time emergencies for new drivers

May 21, 2019

Between Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends, an average of 10 people die each day in crashes involving teen drivers, according to AAA. The span is referred to as the “100 deadliest days.”

Now, a video game could help keep new drivers safe on the roads.

“When I started driving, at first I had butterflies,” said Luke Nelson, 15. As a new driver, Nelson has his learner permit, but not much practical experience.

Nelson hasn’t been involved in a crash yet, but by the time he is 16, statistics show he’ll be three times more likely to crash than other age groups. That’s why he’s practicing driving on a video game designed to show him how quickly things can go wrong.

“It will stop and say you cannot do this, and they will restart you and you lose all your progress,” Nelson said.

Driving Essentials is a simulator game created by Bob Davis for Xbox.

“He gets to practice on things like inclement weather, or if he was in a collision or something,” said Emily Nelson, Luke’s mother.

Davis created Driving Essentials to expose teenagers to conditions they can’t practice on a real road.

“They learn the concept of what they are supposed to do right away, very quickly,” Davis said.

The real-time feedback exposes players to a variety of consequences, from speeding tickets to much worse.

“They never think about the consequences if they hit a pedestrian at a crosswalk, how their life changes,” Davis said.

Emily Nelson is a fan of the game because she knows driving is probably the most dangerous thing she will ever let her son do.

“It does give me a little bit more of a sense of peace,” she said. ”[For] when he does turn 16 and gets out on the road on his own.”

“I just wanted to see how it was and how I could transfer the knowledge that I had gained from the video game onto real driving,” said Luke Nelson.

Experts say the majority of all serious teen crashes involve preventable mistakes -- things like lack of judgment, lack of experience and driving distracted.

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