DAILY INSIGHT: Driver's Education goes virtual

Tech can help kids become safer drivers. 
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Tech can help kids become safer drivers. 

By Paul Sanfrancesco, CIO Advisor

We see many articles, blogs, and tweets about how technology is integrated into the core and elective classes in our schools. But driver education? That's one area in which we hear little about technology. Garnet Valley High School still offers the class. The program is a full semester—60 hours of classroom instruction, or double what the state of Pennsylvania requires. The teacher, Rocco Fantazzi, has always embraced technology in the classroom, including SMARTBoards, clickers and online tests. But how do you get the students behind the wheel? Simulators!

The high school class is fully equipped with four full simulators and two desktop models. The simulators are a great transition tool from theory the road. Without the simulator experience the car would be the first experience. The simulator is as real as it gets, from manual to automatic, turn signals, seat belts, road conditions, even a horn. The scenarios range from night and day, all weather conditions, country to city, box truck to compact car. All the data is collected under the student login. All students use the simulators five to 10 times a semester. The students can also use the simulators on their own time for more road experience.

This experience came through a grant by the Abby Miller Foundation. The goal of The Abby Miller Foundation is to enhance teen-driving education programs. It is our vision that high schools around the country will be able to instruct new drivers through the use of driving simulators on how to avoid and properly react to the many hazards we encounter daily on roads and highways. The Abby Miller Foundation aims to save the lives of teensby improving driver’s education. Your donations can help make this dream a reality.

Paul Sanfrancesco is director of technology for Garnet Valley School District in Pennsylvania.