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How this insurer is using an online game format to reduce teen driver collisions


October 24, 2019   by Jason Contant


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Manitoba Public Insurance (MPI) is using an online game format in an attempt to help reduce collisions among teen drivers.

The MPI-developed Driver Z online platform and curriculum is organized on a map that spans six zones. By completing elessons, attending classes and practicing with a supervising driver, students can progress through the map and earn points and stars. As they rack up points, they rise on the leadership board and unlock progress badges.

Manitoba Public Insurance’s online Driver Z program has “gamified” driver education.

The online program was officially rolled out to students Sept. 30 following a successful beta pilot involving 20 schools. Over the next few months, nearly 5,000 students in 170 high schools will get to experience the new and innovative learning tools featured in Driver Z, MPI said in a press release last week.

The most significant change from the previous driver education program is the added online component, MPI reported. Classroom time was reduced by 14 hours and instructors and students now complete their work within the Driver Z application.

The final class in the course is called the Capstone Project. It tasks students with creating an engaging presentation that ties in the province’s Road to Zero vision, a traffic strategy that sets a goal of zero road fatalities. The Capstone Project challenges students to come up with new and engaging ideas on topics such as positive traffic safety culture, hazard awareness, rules of the road and technology influence to help make the Road to Zero vision a reality.

“We’ve seen some incredibly innovative ideas from students in the form of board games, songs, poems and even skits,” said Maria Minenna, MPI’s manager of driver education and training.

Deemed “driver education for the next generation,” the Driver Z program uses a mix of online, in-class and in-car learning. For the online portion, students are required to access the program either through a smartphone or computer to complete course work and track their progress. The site hosts interactive elearning activities, instructional videos and an online practice log.

The “gamified” Driver Z program is organized on a map that spans six zones:

  • Electric Avenue – An introductory zone before the first class kicks off. Complete all 29 online activities and set up a co-pilot. This zone may take up to 12 hours to complete
  • From Easy Street to Road Sage (second and third zones) – Twenty hours of in-class learning, including writing a knowledge test
  • Highway to Help – After passing a knowledge test, attend instructor-led in-car training (14 hours) while continuing to keep up with online requirements between lessons (2 hours)
  • Life in the Slow Lane – At least 45 hours of in-car practice time (which must be verified by a co-pilot). For students that go beyond 45 hours of in-car practice, they earn twice the points for each hour
  • Boulevard of Dreams – The final stretch; with more practice comes more points and the ability to rise on the leadership board and level up, collecting badges. At seven months after the knowledge test and at least 45 hours of verified practice time, students are eligible to book a readiness assessment with their instructor.

This week is also National Teen Driver Safety Week (Oct. 20-26). Organized by Parachute Canada (a non-profit organization dedicated to injury prevention), the initiative is an opportunity for teen drivers in the province to evaluate driving behaviours and work on reducing teen driver involvement in crashes.

Teen drivers make up only about 5% of Manitoba drivers, but are involved in about 10% of all injury and fatal collisions each year, MPI reported.