One of the most stressful moments in a parent’s life is when they first turn over the car keys to their teen. This anxiety is well-founded. According to a 2016 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study, motor vehicle crashes were the leading cause of death for teens in the United States. In the year the study was conducted, 2,433 teens, between the ages of 16-19 were killed in motor vehicle crashes, and nearly 300,000 received treatment for injuries resulting from car crashes.

A new driving simulator available on the Xbox One gaming console hopes to address some of these issues. Driving Essentials XE became available for download through the Microsoft Store earlier this year. The simulator claims to offer “a complete training curriculum which teaches your teen driver to learn and refine critical skills essential to safe driving.”

Even though Driving Essentials XE is available on a gaming console, it is not a game. It is a real driver-training program that delivers a complete virtual instructor to new or inexperienced drivers. Users practice in the safety of their own home, and on a medium in which they are comfortable.

Driving Essentials XE review
Simulator challenges teens to recognize hazards as they drive.
Photo: Driving Essentials XE

Why Driving Training Is Important

When most teen drivers get behind the wheel for the first time, they are inexperienced and not always prepared for the complex series of actions necessary to operate a motor vehicle safely. This inexperience is particularly pronounced when new drivers are thrust into unpredictable or hazardous conditions.

However, it’s not always easy for a parent to get their teens the driver-training they need. Private driving education courses can be expensive, and not all states offer driver education through the public school system. On top of that, even if you get your teen training, how do you prepare them for dangerous situations without placing them in actual danger?

Driving Essentials XE is one solution.

Driving Essentials XE Review

The Driving Essentials XE simulator uses the standard Xbox One controller — no pedals and no steering wheel — to take you through a series of driving lessons. This can be a negative because the teen isn’t set up as if he or she is behind the wheel of a real vehicle, and that enforces the sense of gameplay rather than an actual simulation.

However, there is no high-speed driving or off-road action indicative of most racing games. In fact, any reckless driving or attempt to leave the road results in a lesson restarting from the beginning. So kids can’t choose to break the rules for fun.

Driving Essentials XE review


Simulation for parallel parking.
Photo: Driving Essentials XE

There are ten lessons and they range from the basics, orienting the driver in the car and familiarizing them with the most basic concepts of driving, through to driving in hazardous conditions like snow, fog, and rain.

While the simulator isn’t meant to be a substitute for getting experience behind the wheel, Driving Essentials XE does foster safe driving practices and good habits through repetition and a simple reward system. Drivers start with a score of one hundred at the beginning of a lesson. Points are deducted for infractions like failing to stop at a red light but are regained through continuous safe driving. Completing a lesson above a certain point level earns the driver achievements.

Driving Essential XE was created by Virtual Driver Interactive, a company that provides simulation-based driver training to multiple industries. Their clients include UPS, AAA, and the Ohio Highway Patrol.

Founder and CEO, Bob Davis, came up with the idea for the technology behind Driving Essential XE after having a near accident himself. According to the company’s website, he later realized that “video game technology could be used for something much more important than entertainment – driver safety.”

Driving Essential XE is available for download at the Microsoft Store for use on the Xbox One Console. The simulator costs $39.99.

Driving Essentials XE Review — Sources

Driving Essentials XE
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Virtual Driver Interactive



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