Switzerland's biggest motoring organisation has launched the world's first on-line driving lessons - COOLdriving.This content was published on March 8, 2002 - 08:07
The Touring Club of Switzerland (TCS) is responding to what it regards as a declining interest in learning the rules of the road through books. It believes a free-of-charge Internet-based course will answer a growing need.
The TCS launched COOLdriving at this year's Geneva Motor Show, and it will be available to the general public once the event is over on March 17.
"The traditional way of learning is very boring. The cars are old and the language is old-fashioned," says Frédéric Layani, the head of the TCS's Internet department.
"The Internet gives us the chance to make it interactive and fun," he told swissinfo.
Once into the COOLdriving programme, the "driver" chooses a language and a vehicle. He can then choose one of two virtual routes - town or country.
He will be confronted with a series of scenarios, and he must choose the correct answer from three options. Accompanying him on his journey is Léa, who tells him whether he has answered correctly or not with phrases like "You're the best", "Nobody's perfect", or "Check your handbook again".
"Léa is there to advise and pass on information," Layani says, explaining that the cybergirl in question will always explain the correct answer when you make a mistake.
The questions have been reformulated to correspond more closely with modern language use, and so make the process of learning the highway code more appealing to young drivers.
The message is that road safety can be fun. But the service is not just intended at young people just learning to drive. It is also useful as a refresher course for older drivers unsure about what to do in certain situations.
COOLdriving is being seen as a useful tool that complements existing methods of learning road safety regulations.
The routes currently on offer give the opportunity to find out how to cope with traffic lights, junctions, motorway driving and so on. But further scenarios are planned - parking, for example, or filling up with petrol.
by Roy Probert
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