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A new driver simulator will hopefully help more South Canterbury learner drivers pass their practical test.

Vehicle Testing New Zealand statistics showed that about a third of the 250,000 people nationwide who sat their licence each year failed the practical test, equating to about 1000 people in the Timaru area.

To help address this and to train a new generation of more aware and competent drivers, Fulton Hogan has donated a driver simulator to Aoraki Development.

Aoraki Development has assumed ownership of the simulator on behalf of the community and is making it available for secondary schools and the local community.

When it is not in use the simulator will be stored at Fulton Hogan’s Washdyke base.

Fulton Hogan central South Island operations manager Brett King said the company’s decision to share the simulator reflected its progressive approach to preparing young people for employment.

“Aoraki Development stands out as a leader in New Zealand in working with schools and businesses to highlight career pathways to employment for young people, and their interest in using the simulator is further evidence of their initiative.”

Mr King said Fulton Hogan was deeply committed to road safety.

“We want to advance road safety in every aspect – by building safer roads, by making it safer for our people who work on the roads and to have a safer driving public through better training.

“A driver’s licence is also a critical step on the path to employment and this is a key strength of the simulator.”

South Canterbury road safety co-ordinator Daniel Naude said the simulator’s greatest strength would be in giving new drivers the chance to improve their spatial awareness.

“The three main reasons people are not passing their practical driving tests relate to inadequate giving way, not stopping at stop signs and failing to check in rear view mirrors for blind spots,” Mr Naude said.

“The simulator is the perfect tool for addressing this, and making good behaviours more or less automatic. It will allow young people to gain these spatial awareness skills in an unstressful, realistic and consequence-free environment.

“The simulator is particularly useful for training drivers for decision making which is a crucial part of safety, for instance whether a car is going to pull out or not from a side road or if it’s safe to pass a vehicle.”