Virtual assessment to expand driver training in Ohio


COLUMBUS (AP) — Ohio will use over 400 virtual driving terminals placed at driver schools and examination locations to determine the skills that would-be drivers need to work on, Gov. Mike DeWine announced Thursday.

The terminals will gather data that could help Ohio make changes to its driver-training program, the Columbus Dispatch reported.

“This is not a substitute for getting into a vehicle,” DeWine said. “This is not a simulator.”

The terminal creates a virtual driving environment by using headphones to funnel in sounds of the vehicle and other surrounding noises encountered while driving.

It will test scenarios such as keeping a safe distance from the vehicle ahead, scanning for curves and watching for traffic at crossings.

The state will pay for startup costs using a federal grant for $350,000 and will not charge driving schools for the equipment.

DeWine said the state will encourage driving schools to utilize the terminals before and after their training to measure the students’ progress. New drivers will be asked to go through the assessment before their on-road test.

Data from the terminals will be shared with the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and state safety officials to improve Ohio’s driver training.

The state plans to keep track of the records of participating drivers to combine assessment data with future crash and citation reports.