COLUMBUS — Ohio is leading the country as the first state to begin piloting portable driver simulator systems (PDSS) as safety screeners and skill diagnostics prior to road tests.

As part of the Drive Toward a Safer Ohio initiative, the Ohio Department of Public Safety (ODPS) has partnered with the Children’s’ Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) and the Ohio State University (OSU) to develop a PDSS to assess driving skills of new drivers before they test for their permanent Ohio driver license.

“A first time driver can cause injury to themselves, driver examiners, and other motorists, along with property damage to their vehicles and other vehicles,” said Don Petit, Registrar of the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV). “It is the intent to use these simulators as safety screeners emulating ‘real driving’ conditions for first time driver testers before they proceed with the maneuverability and skill testing.”

The driver simulators will provide a pretest assessment at the BMV Driver Examination stations by testing applicants on their ability to appropriately respond to routine traffic stops, traffic lights, emergency vehicles, stop signs, railroad crossing, cross walks and school zones. The assessment score will not affect the ability to obtain a driver’s license, but will only serve as diagnostic data for the BMV and CHOP during the pilot program.

The software is designed so that each driving scenario is randomized to avoid predicting the course layout or the order of the assessment criteria.

“The core of the software is over two decades of CHOP research that resulted in a scientifically validated drive that can assess driver performance in situations known to be critical to safety,” says Dr. Flaura Winston, MD, PhD, Scientific Director of CHOP’s Center for Injury Research and Prevention and the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Distinguished Chair in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Pennsylvania. “What the Ohio customer will experience is the result of a dedicated collaboration to translate this science to the real world testing environment that included scientists, technologists and subject matter experts from CHOP, OSU, Diagnostic Driving, Inc. ODPS. This process produced a world-class, yet practical and tangible service for Ohio that we hope will help them realize safer roads. We are honored and excited to be part of this ground-breaking pilot.”

A pilot program has been implemented at the BMV driver examination station located at 990 Morse Road, Columbus, Ohio. The PDSS will also be available for public demonstration and use at the ODPS booth at the Ohio State Fair starting today through Aug. 6.

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