Flanders has been systematically introducing new driver training policies since the sixth Belgian state reform made it a regional jurisdiction. This includes training for the ‘B’ driving licence. The government decided to extend the minimum length of driver training, promised better support for people helping with supervision, and introduced a new syllabus for learner drivers, driving instructors and supervisors. In the modern age we’re in, this of course needs an app to go with it. IntoApps, a subsidiary of Xylos Group, was therefore asked to help. The app needs to structure the learning process and simplify the monitoring of the driver’s progress. This European first is already generating great interest from abroad.
As well as recognised driving schools and instructors, family and friends can also provide supervision for learner drivers in our country. The new Flemish government policy hasn’t changed this, but the minister responsible did want to formalise support for supervisors better. A number of other changes, such as a longer driver training period and an updated syllabus, have also been introduced.
"We wanted to make significant changes to the monitoring aspect between your provisional and full driver’s licence", says Stephenie De Cort, Driver Training Communications Manager at the VSV. "We started by writing a handbook for driving instructors, but quickly realised we could extend it to learner drivers too. There are lots of exercises and tips in the curriculum."
Young people today are deeply entrenched in the digital world. The Flemish Foundation for Traffic Knowledge (VSV) has therefore integrated the new syllabus into an app, Rijbewijzer. "The governing bodies decided it was time to go digital, but we wanted more than just a digital handbook, so we developed an app to make the driver training interactive", explains Wim Robberechts, Digital Communications Manager at VSV.
The VSV issued an invitation to tender, and IntoApps was selected following this procedure largely thanks to its solid action plan. Robberechts: "They also had the best pricing model, but the main thing that convinced us was their way of working. This meant a long preliminary stage before phased deliveries with set milestones, all in the space of just four months. And the result shows they’ve been able to convert a complex narrative into a very strong app, both visually and in terms of content. The project did ultimately end up lasting six months because the legislative framework held things up a bit."
The app covers all 59 parts of the curriculum with exercises for each stage. You can run through these stages in sequence, or pick and choose as you wish. You can then assess your own performance, or the person supervising can assess you – and so give you points to work on. Rijbewijzer therefore gives you some proof of your ability to drive, and you can register how much time you spend driving too. As the saying goes: practice makes perfect. The more you drive, the safer you will be when you get your driver’s licence. The screen is of course frozen during driving, so you need to park up safely before changing anything.
The app also provides tips for the people supervising. "Parents who learned how to drive twenty years ago were taught to pump the brakes for an emergency stop in winter conditions, but now all vehicles have ABS so this isn’t necessary anymore", explains Driver Training Team Manager, Hilde Bruynseels, as an example.
The app is available for iOS and Android, and already had 100 downloads prior to the updated driver training. Stephenie De Cort: "From October 2017, anyone who is helping with supervision is required to follow compulsory training. This three-hour session includes a thorough explanation of the app, so even though you don’t have to use it, we’re expecting a rapid increase from then."
Compulsory or not, the app certainly structures the learning process for both driver and supervisor, and is a useful tool for evaluating the learner’s driving skills. And just like accredited driving schools don’t send you out on main roads straight away, the app also guides you through step by step. The VSV believes this will result in better and safer drivers.
This new vision is already earning praise, also from abroad. The VSV recently received very complimentary feedback for the app at a driver training conference in Trondheim, Norway. And the Northern Irish delegation also asked for more information with a view on starting a similar project.
"IntoApps can convert a complex narrative into very strong app, both visually and in terms of content."