Virtual Drive of America Review
In the interest of accuracy, please note that Virtual Drive of America, Virtual Drive of Texas, Virtual Drive of Colorado, etc. are all the same company.
Started by a Husband and Wife team
Virtual Drive of America was started by a husband and wife team with extensive computer backgrounds, especially in creating CD-ROM training products for businesses. They’ve taken a similar approach to driver training. Virtual Drive of America is basically a highly customized PowerPoint lecture.
Similar to a PowerPoint Presentation
In fact, every word is read to you by the narrator as it appears on screen. While this may be frustrating for fast readers, the combination of text and audio makes it a good fit for both aural and visual-textual learners, not to mention students with learning disabilities. Note that you can move to the next screen even if the narrator hasn’t finished reading the page.
Plenty of Graphics and Animation
The graphics and animations are OK at illustrating the concepts, although they’re not nearly as glossy as some of the other online driving training providers. However, I wouldn’t categorize this is a negative.
Includes 8 support videos
Virtual Drive of America’s product includes 8 fairly well-produced videos. The topics covered are: City Streets, Driving Under the Influence, Expressways, Fundamentals of Vehicle Control, Identifying & Avoiding Conflict, IPDE (Identify, Predict, Decide, and Execute), Negotiating Intersections, and Turning Maneuvers.
Virtual Drive of America promotes the IPDE scanning system which is virtually identical to the SEE system that Driver’s Ed Guru promotes.
I have two small “problems” (albeit quite minor) with Virtual Drive of America’s videos. First, the videos appear to be somewhat dated. The cars and clothes appear to be from the late 1980s or early 1990s. While the information is very solid, some teens may be distracted by this. My other problem, which is quite picky, is that there is no “buffering” or “loading” bar on the videos. So, if your internet connection is a little spotty, the video may stop unexpectedly. There’s no way to “pause” the video and allow it to download a good portion of the video.
That being said, the support videos are a nice touch. However, if you’re looking for a full-fledged video for your teen, some of the DVDs in our round-up may be a better choice.
Online and CD-ROM versions available
The Virtual Drive of America online and CD-ROM courses appear to be identical. Which one you choose is purely up to your preference.
History of Virtual Drive of America
Virtual Drive of America’s first product was designed exclusively for the state of Texas. It was created as an alternative, state-approved course for the Texas Parent-Taught Driver’s Education program. As an alternative to what the state of Texas provides (a 1600+ page curriculum), Virtual Drive of Texas was a boon.
Judged completely on its own merits, Virtual Drive of America can be a little tedious. Driver’s Education is serious business, though, so you may or may not consider this a big negative. On the other hand, if you live in a state where the product fulfills a state requirement, you can’t go wrong with this product.
Price: $29 – $169.95 depending on the state. Their $29 “preparatory” course is offered in states that do not require you to take any type of course in order to gain a license. CA – $69; TX – $149
- Comprehensive curriculum based upon Texas Department of Public Safety Parent-Taught Driver’s Education program.
- PowerPoint style with narrator reading all text as it comes on screen becomes tedious.