WATERTOWN (CBS) – At 14 years old Eden Salley is already dreaming of driving.
“It’s just going to be so much easier when I have that extra level of independence to go where I want,” she told WBZ-TV.
Since Salley is still too young to apply for her permit, she’s practicing in a different way – with an Xbox driver training program called “Driving Essentials.”
“I learned about blind spots and especially how not to be in other people’s blind spots like trucks because they’re dangerous to drive around. I had no idea about a lot of that stuff. There’s a whole lesson called ‘What If,’ they have ghost versions of the cars that will show you what they might do and how a crash would happen.”
Through a series of ten levels, Driving Essentials teaches teens about intersections, space management, distracted driving and more. A life bar sits at the top of the screen where points are deducted for speeding, not using turn signals, running a stop sign or not looking both ways before making a turn.
“It’s training your brain to ask, ‘What if? What if this happens?’ It’s helping me develop habits so that when I’m actually starting to drive I can just focus on controlling the car. This is my only chance to practice some of these dangerous situations because you can’t practice an accident,”said Salley.
Bob Davis is the founder of Virtual Driver Interactive, a California-based simulator company that created Driving Essentials.
“I want things on the Xbox and PlayStation that are socially responsible and useful. The vast majority of titles as you know on consoles are let’s just say, not constructive. When you look at anything to do with driving right now, everything on the Xbox teaches them exactly the wrong things,” Davis told WBZ.
“I didn’t know what to expect at first,” said Salley’s father, Isaac Van Wesep. “I wasn’t sure if she would enjoy it or not or view it as a job, but actually she really likes it and seems like it’s fun.”
While Salley does have fun playing, she says it’s the first time a video game has made a lasting impression.
“If everyone got to do this I think so many accidents could be prevented. My brain is re-wired for driving,” she said.
Driving Essentials is currently available in the Xbox store.