Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Legacy Department

Mechanical Engineering

Committee Chair/Advisor

Wagner, John R

Committee Member

Alexander, Kim

Committee Member

Mocko, Gregory


In 2009, there were 10.8 million automotive crashes in the United States. When reviewing these incidents, young drivers were the over-represented group who were involved in these vehicular crashes. One reason that these young drivers have such high crash rates is that they often do not possess extensive driving knowledge and typically lack driving experience. Over the past three decades, researchers have investigated the driver training process which includes the classroom and behind the wheel to help address teaching the deficiencies in the driver education program. To complement the current driver education process, automotive simulators can be utilized to teach skills and strategies. Driving simulators offer multiple advantages as student drivers are accustomed to playing video games, it is entirely safe to practice driving in a virtual environment, and many different types of driving tracks and custom scenarios can be implemented. In this thesis, an innovative automotive simulator will be created and tested to evaluate its effectiveness for teaching novice drivers fundamental motor vehicle skills. The personal computer-based portable Clemson Automotive Training System (CATS) was developed to teach young drivers the necessary driving knowledge and then allow them to practice driving a vehicle on a virtual track. The students became familiarized with typical road situations and simultaneously enhanced their driving abilities when facing unexpected scenarios. In CATS, a track and four different scenarios (e.g., 'Control Sign', 'Lane Selection', 'Braking', and 'Obstacle Avoidance') were created to test different driving aspects. The driving rating and feedback was displayed on the computer screen immediately after the student completed the driving test. As part of the experimental study, 50 participants were invited to complete the virtual driving training process. The driving test contained three parts: a pre-test questionnaire, four driving scenarios, and a post-test questionnaire. The laboratory results show that the novice drivers demonstrated a significantly higher potential in acquiring basic driving knowledge and improving their driving skills after practicing on a CATS simulator than more experienced drivers. There was an overall driving improvement of 28% after the students finished the CATS. The simulator has successfully demonstrated its ability to enhance both driving knowledge and driving skills through the training of novice drivers. Further development of CATS is necessary to refine and improve its ability to educate and train novice drivers. A more realistic track should be constructed with high-resolution objects such as a school zone and buildings along the roadway, and more scenarios designed to expore more advanced driving skills. In addition, an additional force feedback function should be added to enhance the driving realism. Finally, vehicular traffic should be added to the simulator environment that will interact with each student's vehicle to offer a more realistic scenario.

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