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Safety Ratings—a cure for the mayhem in online racing games?

Back when sanctioned multiplayer online competition at iRacing was still just a plan brewing, we faced a difficult question:

How do we keep people from overdriving their virtual cars and wrecking everyone else (or at least minimize it), in order to make online racing more like real world on-track time?

Our answers to this question eventually resulted in the safety rating system that seems to generate a lot of heated debate. I thought it would be a good idea to explain the philosophy behind the system in more detail, including its historical roots. That way, there’s more fuel for the debate!

Online racing games, as much as we try to re-create the real-world experience, will probably always permit crashing that is safer, cheaper, and more convenient than in real racing. That’s why we do it! However, the lack of fear for personal safety, coupled with the instant repairs and miniscule repair bills, lends sim racing a well-deserved reputation for barely controlled mayhem. Taking that mayhem as a given, we needed to come up with some incentives at iRacing that would help produce cleaner, more realistic online races.

One of the many ideas we considered was to actually charge small amounts of money for “crash damage.” This would provide a parallel to real life racing, in that repairs are paid for by the car owner, no matter who is at fault. However, it could be argued that that would give iRacing an incentive to encourage more crashing, and we definitely don’t want that. We could address that concern by giving the money to charity, or providing it as prize money. The biggest downside, though, is that having to pay repair costs, no matter how small, would seriously escalate the bad feelings (i.e. testosterone-fueled anger) that inevitably result from just about any mishap on track. One good thing about crashing in real life is that you are so happy to be alive afterwards that you feel a lot less angry about it, even if it was somebody else’s fault. That’s not the case online, which is just another downside to the safety and convenience of simulated crashing. So we abandoned that idea. We have no need for more post-crash anger.

Dave Kaemmer Crash

In the end, we implemented several things which, taken together, encourage driving in a safer manner. One is to require drivers to use their real names, in order to provide a little accountability and less anonymity to hide behind. Before you can race at a real track, you need to show your driver’s license, sign a release under your real name, and generally let other people know who you are. Keeping our reputations intact is a powerful incentive for (most of) us to behave ourselves.

Another way we try to improve overall safety is by starting new members as Rookies in less powerful cars, and have a racing license progression that allows them into faster, more difficult cars as they learn. In the real world, no-one steps into an Indy car on Day One of their driving career, and with good reason. It makes a lot of sense to work up to speed slowly, only moving to faster cars once you have mastered a slower one. How can we tell when someone has “mastered” a car? In the real world, the answer is when they have enough money for a faster one. That is only partly a joke! In fact, a driver who wrecks a lot of equipment is costing someone a lot of money, and that does tend to trip-up that driver’s career.

In iRacing, we decided that advancement to faster cars should be based only on drivers’ safety records, and not on how fast they are. In online racing, we need to emphasize safety over speed in order to minimize the on-track mayhem. In real life, the importance of safety is so obvious as to almost go unstated. It is just not considered good form to lose control of your race car, for any reason. “That idiot wrecked me!” only works a few times as an excuse before instructors and officials start raising their eyebrows and wondering if maybe there’s more than one idiot involved. Being fast is good, but being safe is better. It turns out that being safe is faster, too, in the long run. New drivers usually aren’t able to drive the car at the limit of the tires’ capabilities without taking a lot of risks—they reach their own limits as a driver before they reach the limits of the car, so they tend to think that faster = scarier, or, “to go faster I need to be more aggressive.” As drivers gain experience, they learn to control the car safely even beyond the limit, in the scary, but slower, sliding portion of the tire force curve. Once drivers are able to do that, then they are able to work on consistently keeping the car at the peak of the tires’ capabilities, while not coming anywhere close to the limits of their ability to control the car. So the fastest drivers aren’t fast because they are being more aggressive, they’re faster because they have learned more skills.

safety-rating

Unfortunately, it’s not possible to learn those skills without taking some risks. However, the best way to learn is to find a balance between pushing yourself to go faster, and keeping your aggression under control, so you don’t crash too often. The iRacing safety rating, or SR, system is designed to give you some clues about how well you’re doing at finding that balance. A simple rule of thumb is this: if your SR is in the 2’s or below, you need to work on controlling your aggression—take fewer chances, don’t fight so hard to gain (or maintain) a position, use patience, and concentrate on driving cleanly. If your SR is above 4, you are doing well at driving safely at your current license level—you could stand to push yourself a little harder to find some more speed. If your SR is in the 3’s, you’ve found a good balance.

You should generally find that if you work on staying out of trouble, you will have better finishes in races. If you find that other people are crashing you out all the time, you need to seriously think about whether you would drive the way you are driving if you were in a real car. In almost any incident involving two or more drivers, all the drivers share some responsibility—maybe not equal blame, but if you are even five percent at fault, you might have been able to avoid it. If you are truly zero percent at fault, you don’t need to worry too much, since those kinds of accidents are rare, and shouldn’t impact your SR in the long term.

How do we keep people from overdriving their virtual cars and wrecking everyone else (or at least minimize it), in order to make online racing more like real world on-track time?

Notice that at each license level, the expectation for safe driving is set a little higher. If you are a Class D, 4.5 SR driver and are promoted to Class C, your SR is reduced by one to 3.5. In other words, what’s a great level of safety for a Class D racer is only a good level for a Class C racer. As you move up the license ladder, you’ll need to stay focused on driving safely, but that should become easier as you gain experience. A lot of people watch their SR too closely—the hundredths digit doesn’t really matter (neither does the tenths, frankly), other than to give you an indication at the end of a session whether your driving during that session was considered safe (SR moves up), or not so safe (it moves down) for your license level. In the longer term, it will move to where it reflects your safety level, regardless of whether you’ve had a streak of bad luck or good luck. Then use the 2 (ease up), 3 (good work), 4 (go faster) rule of thumb. Of course, with the Fast Track promotions, you’ll be put right back at a 3, one license level up, unless you are a Class A driver. We hope the SR system is helping you to drive within yourself, and to have better races online!

About DaveKaemmer

Dave Kaemmer co-founded iRacing.com in September of 2004 where he acts as the CEO and CTO. Prior to iRacing, Dave was co-founder of Papyrus Design Group, developers of award-winning racing simulations including NASCAR Racing: 2003 Season and Grand Prix Legends. An active racer in the real world, Dave won 19 races in the Skip Barber Racing Championship, held the series lap record at Lime Rock Park, and has also competed in the 24 Hours of Daytona. Dave is an avid cyclist, often times riding to work from his home outside of Boston where he lives with his wife and three children.

70 Comments

While I applaud the great lengths that iRacing takes in finding a well rounded SR platform, I have to say that the “Fast Track” variable is a step backwards. The end result is that while larger fields are a result, it (Fast Track) is not conducive to SR and its inherent meaning.

Emulating real world happenings (promotion wise) with respect to sim racing is something that one can’t “model” when dealing with a membership of the scale at iRacing, thus deterring from the overall driving experience.

Regards,
Rick Savage

March 10th, 2010 at 4:55 pm
Rick Savage

This article doesnt apply to greger huttu

March 10th, 2010 at 5:01 pm
Anonymous

Good stuff Dave, Hopefully some guys can take from this and better themselves on track.
Fast Track made more sense to me after this and my over all view of SR became less serious.

March 10th, 2010 at 5:03 pm
Marcus Caton

Dave, Thank you for your Blog post on one of the more frequently debated subjects in iRacing. I’m not sure it could be explained any better. The Safety Rating system is brilliant in concept and sorely needed in online sim racing. I’m so glad iRacing has such a system.

At a high level it makes perfect sense to the majority of iRacers. Maybe this blog post will help some others focus less on an individual incident and more on the big picture. Don’t sweat the small stuff as they say.

Driving in the vicinity of other drivers is risky. The vast majority of time on the track other than the start of a race, each driver will determine how close they want to race with other drivers. In a sense each driver determines the amount of risk they are willing to take not only racing in traffic, but also all alone around each corner. Too many incidents means too much risk. Back off and lower your risk until such time as you can handle it. Makes a ton of sense. Hopefully more iRacers will realize this as time goes on.

March 10th, 2010 at 5:09 pm
Lincoln Miner

Great way of putting it Dave! on the website can we darken or black out the tenths and hundreds. Darken so its something we don’t have to pay that much attention too. Obviously the scale of 2-4 sounds pretty good but it is those tenths that get you going after a race.

Seat time is key and the more you have that seat time not only do your Corners per incident even out for a more consistent SR but you also gain the valuable time needed to compete at a higher level.

March 10th, 2010 at 5:10 pm
Greg Cloutier

Dave. The Safety Rating System was a great idea. You tried to find the incentive for people to drive in a realistic way or in a way they would drive in the real world where there is the fear of destroying the car and having repair costs.

The Safety Rating System tries to reflect those effects of repair costs in the real world.

The goal was right, but you made one wrong turn.

Instead of having an inc system to give incentive to drive safe, you could have made a much cooler, more accepted, and funnier system by using a Virtual Money System, like many other NR2003 Leagues used.

In essence, a virtual money system where you lose money depending on what parts of your car are destroyed and earn money if you finish the race, could have been tweaked to work out exactly the way the Inc System works out. The end result between a virtual money system and the SR Incidents system would have been the same.

But the acceptance among the drivers, the realism of it, would have been much much easier to swallow for alot of people, all those long ass discussions in the forums and the neverending complaining about the unfairness and the unrealistic Inc System all these negative things could have been avoided if the Inc System would be a Virtual Money System, it would not only avoid the negative appearance that the SR system is, it would have also turned this whole SR and Inc System into a COOL thing, into a fun thing!

Thats where a great mistake has been made in the otherwise great thing. But the results of that mistake is alot of negative emotions and a big deal of confusion about this part of iRacing by alot of people that could have been easily avoided.

Cheers and special thanks for making GPL and Indy 500 The Simulation.

March 10th, 2010 at 5:22 pm
George Kuyumji

I wish that at least 50% of the iRacing members would truly work more on safe driving than fast driving. You will see your results improve with this great system iracing has implemented. I would not be here if we did not have a safety rating system.
Kuddos Dave and Staff

March 10th, 2010 at 5:22 pm
David Scott2

The picture of Dave and the crumpled up Skippy car above brings back some memories, a little comical now but at the time pretty scary. It was my first month on the job at iRacing as the CFO and I was invited to go and meet the folks at Lime Rock Park, hang out and watch some of the iRacing guys do a few laps. We also had some media types on the track and they were working on a story about iRacing. I was watching them all drive with Steve Potter, and avid racer himself and our director of PR who used to also manage Lime Rock Park. Anyway, Dave who was the fastest one on the track, hit some oil and lost control. Steve Potter and I were standing right next to the crash and wow, it was a loud and sudden crash at high speed!!! I was thinking man, this is not going to be good. Since Steve worked there at Lime Rock for years, I asked him if that was a normal crash at Lime Rock in a Skippy car and he said “No, that was a real bad one”. As the CFO I was thinking geez this is gonna cost us a lot of money!!!! Just kidding, I was relieved when Dave jumped out of the car and started kidding around about the crash. Later that day we drove to the other side of Connecticut to another track (Wateford) in time to watch iRacing’s Kevin Ianerelli race at night in his True Value Modified Car. He also crashed! Again not his fault! Big hit that day for safety rating in the real world for the iRacing team. When I got back the office the next day I looked further into our Insurance plans.

March 10th, 2010 at 5:31 pm
Tony Gardner

I agree with everything you have said. Yet, I still believe the SR system is flawed when it always shares the blame 50/50 in any accident. Perhaps you could do something to avoid it, yes, but there is still usually one driver who is guilty, both in online racing and in real life.

I understand it’s impossible to monitor every incident, as if it was the F1 world championship, but I do believe the system could use with some changes. Namely, I reckon it should be much harder to lose SR points in incidents, but gaining points should also be a lot tougher.

In my opinion that would help level things out, and you wouldn’t end up a lot of races feeling like throwing your wheel out of the window because two backmarkers spun in front of you.

As it stands, the SR doesn’t encourage going racing. Yes, it encourages you to practice and be more prepared before entering a race, but at the end of the day this is still a “game” for the majority of iRacers, and we are not pros. I myself am among a group of people who can’t spend the day practicing, but at the same time what I do like is going racing, not just testing all the time, and if I don’t do it more often is because of the SR.

I agree that in my case it probably means that there’s one less “dangerous” driver on track, but this is still a business and while finding a compromise must be very hard, eventually I reckon people are in it to have fun, and the way the SR works right now doesn’t really encourage you to keep paying for iRacing.

I’m a very happy customer, mind you, and I believe the SR idea is great, but it still needs work before it gets close to being fair.

March 10th, 2010 at 5:44 pm
Pablo

With the SR hits at A level, I am the virtual equivalent of a Start&Park racer in iRacing. A rolling chicane to faster drivers.

March 10th, 2010 at 5:47 pm
Eric P

Dave, when you will have enough power of calculus (into three or four generations of processor, I wonder), what about having a deep model of body injuries, influenced by Gs taken during crashes?
Imagine comments like “hey, did you heard that Filippo’s survived 12 Gs at Zandvoort, he’d virtually broken his legs and will be back to sim into a couple of months!”.

March 10th, 2010 at 5:50 pm
Filippo Filippini

Is that Dave K. with a wrecked skippy at LRP?
Rick, I think even with Fast Track, people that can’t safely drive at their fast-tracked license don’t stay there for long. If you get promoted, then demoted, you can’t get promoted again till the following season, correct?

March 10th, 2010 at 5:58 pm
Duncan

I really think fast track is ok, dont bother me, BUT the whole system was designed to work with 3 months intervals, so maybe with fast track it would be better if we gained less SR at a time. Sometimes I gain 0.30 in a race and that’s too much! Maybe 0.15 tops, dont know… Well, just a thought.
Great reading though. Loved the explanations! :)

March 10th, 2010 at 5:59 pm
Aritan Maia

Great read, thanks Dave. Sometime last season I had had a string of bad luck in races and my SR had fallen to the low 2′s. Since then I have really concentrated on raising it and at one point had it up to well over 4…but my iRating had taken a dive. In thinking about it along with your analysis, I had become too cautious, too willing to give up a spot if I thought there might be risk in defending it and I wasn’t enjoying the racing as much. Thanks for helping me quit worrying about it and just getting on with the racing.

March 10th, 2010 at 6:32 pm
Mike Taylor

i like the safety rating system coupled with the license ladder.
i don’t like fast track, but that’s not the main theme of Dave’s post.

also, i agree 100% with George about the virtual money system.
imagine having a virtual sponsor and using that money to buy fuel,
tires, parts, etc.

finally, i think Aritan’s idea of reducing the SR gains could be the
antidote to the bad feelings some of us have about fast track.
very clever, indeed.

thanks for taking your time and writing to us, Dave.
great article! long life to the the blog!

March 10th, 2010 at 6:42 pm
Alexandre Martini

Its funny that the people complaining about fast track are the exact same people who were complaining about no official races in their series. Now they have official races (due to fast track) and their back to their crying… *sigh* Some people just like to complain.

Personally I believe the SR system is the biggest step forward iRacing has implimented. I’ve never had races in other sims which compare to the average iRacing race. Heck I tried a pickup rFactor race last night and was hit 5 times before turn one by dive bombers. So glad we don’t have that here ;)

March 10th, 2010 at 7:42 pm
David Beattie

Has the SR system caused me to drive more cautiously overall? It has, on the fact I wanted to get my licence up to an A class so I could drive the Daytona Prototypes, as they are a car I have a big love for, regardless of how they look.

That said, now that I just need to do 4 time trials or whatever ( once I get my wheel and pedals back from warranty :( ) to complete the MPR to go to A, I’ll probably loosen up a bit more in my racing in the Star Mazda.

This isn’t the article to be discussing fast track on, so I won’t put what I think about it here… Other than I’m a fan! :)

March 10th, 2010 at 8:03 pm
Robert Kaye

I think it would be neat to add a bonus factor in on how many cars you pass at a given event more passing more risk,more bonus.I like the SR rating, hey nothings perfect.

March 10th, 2010 at 8:15 pm
Bill Hughes

Can anyone tell me how to gain more speed? My SR is 4.99, I need speed, fast!

March 10th, 2010 at 8:25 pm
Byron v.h. Bolscher

just keep that throttle pedal to the floor, Byron.

March 10th, 2010 at 9:29 pm
Alexandre Martini

The idea of SR at 2 ish meaning you need to be more safe, 3 is okay and at 4+ might mean being too cautious would hold more weight if we couldn’t simply inflate our damaged SR in TTs.

I know this has been said before, but maybe SR isn’t always real indicator of saftey as you never know whose rating is a product of just racing and who might be going banzai in a race then hopping into TTs to make up the losses. I admit I’ve turned TT laps to raise my SR at times, but I don’t think it’s a good thing and I’d welcome a rating that was purely based on race saftey.

March 10th, 2010 at 11:34 pm
Russell Daly

Firstly I really appreciate this topic being discussed in public by its creator. Huge kudos to Dave for that!
Secondly, I think the SR is excellent in theory, but affects the immersive quality of the simulation. I like the idea of the inc weighting being lessened so its harder to gain and lose points. If your consistantly good (or bad) your points will increase (or decrease) as it does now, but without the wild fluctuations we all seem to endure from time to time, forcing either the “I’m not racing!! I’m accumulating points” senario or the “spend a week doing TT’s to increase your points” senario.

Keep up the good work iRacing!

March 11th, 2010 at 1:02 am
Derrin Drew

I would agree more with the system if it didn’t favor faster drivers. If you’re in the back the ghost sr hits you take when undamaged just kill. I don’t get to race often and I actually got demoted because I raced once got caught up in wrecks and was offline for the rest f season.

March 11th, 2010 at 1:30 am
Rick

SR was a genius idea – the flaw in its implementation isn’t Fast Track, it’s the fact that you can gain SR and promotions without ever racing. Get rid of SR in time trials and qualifying and remove time trials from the MPR and we’ll start to see who can genuinely race and manage risk simultaneously, and who is only at their license and SR level because they’re SR padding in those other sessions.

March 11th, 2010 at 2:35 am
Dave ‘Gizmo’ Gymer

SR system is ok. MPR should be incresed at least 2 fold, preferably 3 fold. And they should be all races, not TTs. SR increases in Qual and TTs need to go as well.

But the big issue is with SR being relied upon to officiate the entire service. This is painfully inadequate. There needs to be the ability to protest rear ending and dive bombing where it seriously changes results of races, even if it was done for A/Pro/iDWC only. Those license holders have earned the right imo.

March 11th, 2010 at 4:15 am
Byron Forbes

Good comments on removing the SR from TT’s, so it has no effect on your Promotions…..one step further (to help counter the FAST TRACK impatient driver types) ….make the SR scale the same across the board, from Rookie to Pro (preferably around “B”) this would be severe enough to slow down rookie thru C drivers who suffer very little from SR hits (making inexperienced drivers be more careful) and take some of the “sting” away from A – Pro drivers (to encourage more racing at the higher levels).I know I’m not real fond of racing lower level drivers because of the difference in SR penalty (especially at a Super-speedway or close quarters short track)

I’m glad to see open discussion on this topic……Great Job iRacing, I’m sure it you’ll make it even better!

March 11th, 2010 at 4:34 am
Rick Hogue

In general, I understand and agree we need an SR system.
In my humble opinion, it needs to be continually improved.
Oval tracks like Daytona have caused me issues as one mistake by anyone in your particular group can easily take out half the field! While realistic, I had this happen to me on 6 consecutive races taking me from 4.9 something to 1.9 ! I avoided the World Tour 200lap event because, a. I couldn’t afford to loose anymore SR and get demoted and b. because I had not had a race with more than 50 green flag laps! :( If incident times are recorded then surely a graded scale of penalty might be possible and help?
Please don’t rest on the current system and work to improve it.
I avoid some races or start from the pits because I know I will get taken out !
Hardly a great situation.
Having said all that… I still love iRacing! :)

March 11th, 2010 at 5:00 am
Martin

I’d like to add my voice to the requests to remove SR from timetrial and qualification sessions.

March 11th, 2010 at 5:29 am
Iain Mabbott

Nice one, Dave. SR is a very important part of the service, to me.

March 11th, 2010 at 5:29 am
Fabrizio Cuttin

ouch, great addition to the blog Tony, thanks for the story :-)

March 11th, 2010 at 6:12 am
Wolfgang Woeger

I’m going to chime in on removal of SR in TT too. It needs to go. If you are looking for a way to keep people from overdriving TT and making it more realistic..use the INC points gained in TT as a time loss multiplier on the TT time for that lap.

March 11th, 2010 at 7:16 am
Tony B

I don’t mind the contact’s in SR so much, I think they are fair and all, the one thing that does bug me are the off track and the loss of control SR, in real life if you go with a wheel into the dirt but you can continue it isn’t like it costs any money or so much speed or something, I think some tracks would be more enjoyable with those off track and loss of control put out.

March 11th, 2010 at 7:29 am
Byron v.h. Bolscher

+1 to removing SR from TT
SR in Qual is good though.

March 11th, 2010 at 9:58 am
Chris C

I believe wholeheartedly in the SR system. I just wish more action would be taken against people who wreck others through indifference or a sense of entitlement for being faster. Malice isn’t the only SR killer or “fun killer” out there.

March 11th, 2010 at 10:39 am
Jim Mauney

I love the SR system. I’d have to say though, it could be more realistic by making a few simple tweaks.

1. Remove the 1x for off track – black flags and danger of spinning are enough of a deterrent for course cutting.

2. Remove the 2x for spinning without contact – a spin in an official session is self-penalizing – it slows you down!

3. Increase incident points for single and multiple car contact. Single car contact (hurting only your car) should be 8x points. Crunch your car and someone elses? 16x.

This would lead to more realistic racing. Pushing the limits of the track, not fearing going off track to avoid an incident, and greater fear of cracking up your car or someone else’s.

March 11th, 2010 at 12:10 pm
Kurt Krumm

heres the problem most driver dont read the rules , the just pay and get on the track and drive . most dont even know where the forum is . all they care about is winning so the spin do a u turn and take out half the field so they wont go a lap down.i am a class c driver ,who races alot in legends , most of them are happy staying right there so the just dont care i think mpr should change by having 25 incident free races befor advance ment and suspension after 5 incindents in arow exammple 2 days or demotion

March 11th, 2010 at 3:40 pm
dan pratt

I belive that the safety rating itself is a good idea but there are some imporvments that are needed as far as unessacary hits to your Safety Rating. I can understand getting involved in a wreck but when you avoide a wreck but get near the guy and still get “4x” is very irritating. Stuff like that needs to be fixed to make the Safety Rating program flawless in my mind.

March 12th, 2010 at 2:56 pm
Alonzo

Good article. As with so many things iRacing, the [i]theory[/i] of SR and license progression sounds outstanding and draws you in to what [i]should[/i] be pretty damned close to what sim racers have dreamed of since Atari 2600 days. Unfortunately, due to factors we’re all still trying to understand, the actual racing is often simply not FUN. Frustration from iRacing drops despite our greates care, lack of close racing, and poorly populated races frequently sap the fun that other more “simpler”, sims often provide despite their occasional tendencies for mayhem.

I wish I knew the answers. I can’t bring myself to give up on what iRacing [i]should[/i] be despite what is so far [i]has[/i] been.

One suggestion for making SR less frustrating is to take out the x1 penalties. The x2 or x4 penalties that result from dropped wheels are their own penalties and the x1 are by FAR the most common slip ups and very seldom (at least for me) actually lead to disruptions of others’ races.

March 13th, 2010 at 10:05 am
Devin O’Brien

Great article Dave. For me the SR system is perfect! Keep up the good work. The system works great because if forces people to drive in the way the creaters of the sim intended. By being careful and being patient, SR works great. Everyone is going to be in a situation that didn’t seem fair, but it always averages out and that is the way it should be.

March 13th, 2010 at 5:54 pm
Luther Prater

Does anyone know if Milka Duno will be driving at the St. Petersburg race ?

March 14th, 2010 at 11:17 am
Paul von Geis

Definitly glad that pay for damages idea never came to fruition. Racing with the rookies in Legends cars would ruin me financially.

March 14th, 2010 at 9:03 pm
Justin Weisel

“testosterone-fueled anger”

Slap in the face to female drivers.

March 14th, 2010 at 11:30 pm
Dave

Well it seems that testosterone actually affects female more than men…

http://abcnews.go.com/Health/MindMoodNews/story?id=8403904

March 15th, 2010 at 9:09 am
Marty Party

I don’t want 1x (offtrack) and 2x (spin without touching anyone) removed. Both are linked with the “overdrive mode” that take soon to a 4x.

March 16th, 2010 at 2:46 am
Filippo Filippini

SR is great. Just ’cause there are some idiots that don’t get it and continually drive in a manner detrimental to the philosophy of the game doesn’t mean that we should change the rules to suit these people otherwise we end up with more of them which is counter productive in my book. Most of my experiences with INC that I have been the “victim” so to speak has been in lesser classes that I probably shouldn’t be racing in (don’t tell me “but I paid for this, I should be able to race where I want when I want”. You can but accept the pitfalls along with the benefits. If Schumacher raced in Saturday night local events he would expect the quality of those around him to be less than F1 and would also expect to have his car dented every now and then and possibly get injured as a result. It comes with the territory.). You can see the improvement in the drivers around you with each license level up you drive.
I can understand the debate on TT but my view is that without SR applying to TT there is no benefit. I look at it as an incentive to get people to practice prior to racing (hopefully). To be truthful, if you removed SR on TT’s and replaced it with a time penalty system I would bet London to a brick that the participation level would drop significantly. I don’t care if people increase their SR by doing TT if it makes them more consistent drivers. SR is not the competition, the race is the competition. If they are not good enough to race in their license level then they will get caught out very quickly and drop back to the appropriate level. Eventually they will get sick and tired of driving 3 times as much on their own in TT to get a license to race and will eventually look at their driving style or else they will probably stop subscribing. Either way it is a benefit to us.

March 16th, 2010 at 11:28 pm
Darryn Hatfield

More iRacing members (a lot more), is the only solution to everyone’s gripes.

SR and iRating work perfectly. They are statistical models that require high samples (more members) in order to prove the merit to those doubters.

We just need much higher subscriptions to races (i.e. 90+ drivers per race to get three splits) in order to show their merit. This way top drivers drive with other top drivers, mid-field drive together, and the crash-bandicoots drive in their own race field.

Problem solved.

SR and iRating are the very things that help differentiate iRacing from other titles.

Now how to get more members?

March 18th, 2010 at 6:08 am
Ben Styles

First off let me say that I really enjoy iRacing. it definitely is the bar in terms of sim racing. However, I REALLY, REALLY, REALLY think that you should continue to develop an AI that somehow, someway assigs blame with regards to the on track incidents. There is NOTHING more frustrating than losing safety points as the result of someone else’s lack of consideration or lack of driving skills. I’ve only been a member for a few short months but I get SO ANGRY when I lose PRECIOUS safety rating points due to someone else’s inability to control their car. It just simply isn’t fair no matter how you stack it up. I’m not bashing you guys but I really think it’s due to an inability to properly “solution” the problem from a technology perspective. You have the code right there in front of you…you have the safety logic……there HAS to be a way to put the two together and assign blame and or a weighting of the safety rating mishap. Please focus on it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

March 31st, 2010 at 10:51 am
Bill Sorah

we need on site officials .aperson observing evvery race drivers would be more carefull .that shouldnt be impossible seing there several other sim sites that run that way

April 1st, 2010 at 10:34 pm
dp

well, id agree with all of this safety rating stuff, except for when i first started there were intentional wreckers, and the got me, safety rating went from 2.50 to 1.41, trying to recover, but now im racing with terrible drivers in my races because of my low rating and cant avoid all the mayhem :(

April 3rd, 2010 at 1:30 am
Chris Overland

I’ve always tried to obtain a 4.99 SR and Dave you’ve made me feel a little more relaxed about my SR in that maybe 4 is too good. Won’t change the way I drive because crashing and finishing don’t go hand in hand, but I won’t sweat getting taken out as much. IT WOULD BE NICE IF THERE WAS A WAY A RACER COULD EITHER VOLUNTARILY TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR A WRECK AND MAYBE TAKE A LITTLE MORE HIT TO THE SR OR ELSE BE VOTED BY OTHER MEMBERS INTO TAKING RESPONSIBILITY FOR A WRECK, but other than this I wouldn’t change a thing.

April 4th, 2010 at 11:35 am
Tim Scates

Sadly this is all interlinked. Although the SR system is good in concept, the implementation of it is flawed. And because of that, like any ‘key performance indicator’, its causing issues.

Dave says to keep your SR at about 3, because that means you are racing hard. Oh yeah? Tell that to anyone trying to get into the Pro Series. For that, you’re going to need a very high SR, because the formula for that is based on SR Ranking. Anything below about 4.5 and you’re toast.

The SR are far too sensitive to individual race events. sometimes a 4x can drop you several tenths of a point, since they also have created different jumps at thresholds. You could be quite happily bumping along at 4.1, 4.2, then all of a sudden ‘bam’, you’re down to 3.8 with only a single incident in one race. What is really needed, are two measures: an ‘average’, and a ‘variation’. The average tells you whether you are doing a good job overall, but the variation is the one you really need to take a look at. And a 4x from a collision isn’t the same at 4 x 1x for wheels off. They are trying to apply a single scalar to accomodate the two different types of ‘penalty’. Again, no need to do that if you have many measures. And it is possible to figure out who is the ‘safer’ driver with multiple measures and objectives.

Finally, SR needs to be eliminated from TT. It should count in qually. There should also be a limit on how many qually attempts you can take, or laps run in total, in a given week. This’ll fix people gaming their SR.

April 8th, 2010 at 2:38 pm
John Burgess

John Burgess wrote:

“What is really needed, are two measures: an ‘average’, and a ‘variation’. The average tells you whether you are doing a good job overall, but the variation is the one you really need to take a look at.”

First, to expand on this suggestion, I’d recommend some sort of “running average” – i.e. if one has maintained (on increased) their safety rating over the last, say six, races, qualifiers, etc., then a 4x would not deduct as many points as it might for a participant who has had a series of incidents.

Second, longer term, there should be some software algorithms (fuzzy logic?) that would address the problem of a driver being involved in an incident that is not that drivers fault – i.e. cars spin out ahead of you and there’s nowhere to go.

For myself, I still enjoy logging on and simracing – but I believe iRacing has to address the above two points to avoid long term frustration for you membership.

April 9th, 2010 at 6:55 pm
Laurence Bourdillon

I just wanted to say thank you I love the safety ratings i was one to cause a wreck when i first started but ive gotten better thanks to SR it in a way helps me focus more but i do hate when people drve right into your bumper while coming out of the pits and things like that but i really love the game and i just wanted to say thank you..

April 10th, 2010 at 11:36 pm
Brandon

Great article Thank

you so much!

April 17th, 2010 at 12:47 am
NBA player shoes

It is a really great invention!
The discusions are good cause are manifestations of the importance that people give to the SR.
But, always are a “but”, why you do not explicit the exact formulae as an apendix in the user guide?

April 20th, 2010 at 9:03 pm
Luis Babboni

I agree with removing SR from TT, plus making the MPR something like 25 completed races (overall, not per season!). This could be increased per license level, ensuring that racers have the proper experience. Perhaps also a minimum lap speed acheived? I feel SR is too easy to gain. It is too easy to get promoted. Take me for example…

I’m about to get my class C license and I think I have less than 20 races to my name. Both of my promotions will have been based on races where I got about +0.55! I’m not sure I will race at all outside rookie next season though, as my class D races have shown me how woefully prepared I am for the step up to even D.

I do think that drivers complaining about the SR not being apportioned by blame are not getting the point, and Dave clearly sums up why in his last paragraph.

April 23rd, 2010 at 5:10 am
David Lidstone

The biggest problem I have with the SR system is that it penalizes drivers for getting caught up in other people’s wrecks. My safety rating went from 3.4ish to 2.0 in one Talladega race because I kept getting caught up in other people’s wrecks. I am talking about wrecks that happen in front of me that would’ve happened even if I were not on the track.

I can handle getting a 4x if I am one of two (or three) cars in a wreck — my fault or not. But when cars are wrecking in front of me and I cannot avoid them, I should not get penalized. Penalizing me for not being able to avoid crashes already happening does not make me safer. Rather, it makes me so paranoid that I tend to be too slow into turn one on start/restarts. This creates unsafe conditions because people go 3 and 4 wide to get around me going into turn one.

It shouldn’t be too hard to program the system to penalize the two (or maybe three) who started the incident but not the others who then get caught up in the mess.

April 23rd, 2010 at 5:04 pm
Cory Brandt

I’m going to agree with most people here and say that I wouldn’t be a member if there wasn’t some sort of accountability during the races, and the SR system does a better job than anything else I’ve seen in online racing. I also think the extremely high price of iracing helps keep the irresponsible twelve year olds away. (Yes, it’s cheaper than real racing, of course, but extremely expensive for a PC sim.)

I’m also going to agree with a lot of posts that the 50/50 fault split needs to be changed.
“Safety Rating” is misnamed. It’s actually “charging” you for the damage that happens to your car, regardless of your own safety or skill. It’s a blind “damage penalty”, and should be named thus in it’s current form. Assigning some sort of fault to the driver that either caused the wreck, or failed to avoid it, could more appropriately be called a Safety Rating.
Getting tagged from behind in turn 1 happens all too often. My suggestion is to implement a graduated system. If your front bumper hits a rear bumper, you take 100% of the blame (like in real life with insurance companies.) If your front quarter panel hits a rear quarter panel, 75-25, and so on. It is ALWAYS the responsibility of the driver to avoid the cars in front of them.

I understand that an argument could be made that the system described above would give incentive to the lead driver to turn into a passing driver while the lead driver is still, well, leading, as the passing driver would take the brunt of the SR hit. I would argue against this, as this is still racing, and the real incentive is still to place as high as possible. I don’t think people would wreck themselves to prevent a pass, and the system would still prevent the overtaking car from bullying to the front.
Anyway, that’s my two cents.

April 28th, 2010 at 4:48 am
quinn

The simplest revisions to the SR system would not involve extra programming to determine ‘fault’ or other complex solutions. Just change the numbers for incidents to move SR away from penalising off-track & loss of control towards light & heavy contact (with cars AND barriers). Combine this with a protest system which mainly looks at large incidents & particular drivers who repeatedly wreck & offers the possibilty of recovering lost SR points from such incidents. Members would need to be discouraged from protesting every little incident by recording the number of protests from each driver which were rejected. They would obviously have to provide replay & maybe at least 1 other driver as witness.
The current system doesn’t differentiate soft/hard impact with objects (eg barriers) & light contact with cars or objects should be more serious than off-track or loss of control. No need to completely remove penalties for the latter – just reduce off-track to half a pt & loss of control to 1 pt. Barriers would be less serious than car contact (x2 light x4 heavy) and big penalties for light/heavy car contact (x4 light x8 heavy)
I also agree with removing SR from Time Trials but still keeping in Qualifying & a MUCH higher MPR to ensure higher licence drivers have plenty of RACE experience. We can all see the result of the TT drivers suddenly being let loose on track – it’s called the week 13 wreck-fest!
I must admit I’ve gone back to play other less-realistic sims when I’m just ‘not in the mood’ to deal with the potential stress of iRacing. However, the iRacing service is by far the most realistic sim available to humankind so keep up the great work guys! 8-) ‘Dave’

April 29th, 2010 at 4:00 pm
David Hallsworth

SR….stands for “Stop Racing”..lol.

May 26th, 2010 at 10:47 pm
Brian

Yes we need a system with checks and balances.
Until there is a blame system in place. DO NOT CALL IT A SAFETY RATING!!!!!!!!!
I do not have control of what others do on track, but they sure can & do affect my SR with the way a lot of them drive.
Someone asked the question would you race this way in real life? The answer is I have to tip toe around others all the time in here. I did not do that in real life. Some of it is because I don’t race with the same guys every time & I have no idea how they are going to handle a car beside them. A lot of it is because I’ll loose SR if they hit me.

The idea of license levels being achieved from experience is great. Just don’t call me safer then someone else because I have a higher SR then them.

June 4th, 2010 at 10:18 am
Jim Gourdine

I have been a member since the inception of iRacing. I must say that when I first started, I HATED the safety rating. I almost quit. However, after being a member for that long and working my way up, I must say that this is truely an awesome online racing venue. People who drive crazy don’t last long at the higher levels. I’ve done self analysis and find Dave’s statement to be true. If you find yourself in the middle of several accidents, race after race, you may want to look in the mirror for the cause.

I’m glad it’s difficult to recover from poor driving, because if I have a bad race, it reminds me to take it easy and finish the race. If you are truely faster, you will win more over time. If you over drive the car you will spend more time in the wall. I’ve let may a “faster car by” just to pass them a few laps later, crunched up on the curb. I have limited time to devote to this and prefer my races to be good ones.

Keep up the good work at iRacing and I’ll keep supporting it with my membership.

June 8th, 2010 at 6:43 pm
Doug Doster

I think the penalties are way over the top. I simply wont race much at all as an accident of another driver will penalize me. I got to A class license and no matter what I do and how safe I try to drive in Quall and TT in Skip Barber I am continually going backwards. There is more than a cautious effort (I would say ridiculously cautious) on my part to go forward in SR and it simply wont let me. I think it is absurd in practice, but great in principle.

I spend approx 1 hour doing a TT and Qual on the track, and a mistake of any sort in each means I go back in SR. I am sorry but I cannot continually drive for hours without a single mistake to go forward in SR. Should I get through the 2 sessions over the period of an hour, next hour I make a mistake, lose the previous hours SR and then 2 hours are spent going nowhere. Feels like capital punishment for stealing a loaf of bread :) .

X2 on a front bumper / rear bumper penalty distribution theory rather than 50/50. I would probably race a lot if this were the case, I can avoid cars in front by being patient early. Approx 90% of my dual vehicle incidents are me being hit from behind, not the other way around (Probably due to driving slower than my pace to not get my SR smashed).

Whether or not my sentiment is agreed with the fact is that I rarely if ever race due to this and I can only assume there are thousands who feels this way too.

The lack of information on the subject I do not like. I cannot find information as to whether or not my penalties are higher in a C class car, or inversely the rewards are lesser because I found it easy to get to A but now can’t race if I want to keep it. One bad race and I lose it and I spend endless hours trying to get to a buffer zone with Q and TT and it won’t let me.

July 25th, 2010 at 12:29 am
Rodney Whittaker

Many ways of discouraging dangerous driving have been tried and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that safety ratings are perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that safety ratings are the worst way of discouraging dangerous driving except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.

August 2nd, 2010 at 10:22 pm
Winston Churchill

The SR is Great but still needs tweaking. Removing the Sr from the TT’s would mean that members would just join more races to increase their SR,possibly causing more wrecks resulting in lower SR for everyone. I think Member should be grouped by SR when joining a race.
Ex: Members with 1 or below in one group 2.0 – 2.5 in an other, 2.5 – 3.0 and so forth.
Keep good Drivers with good drivers to make for a very good Racing.

Keep up the Great Work, I spend more time Racing then anything else I love iRacing.

August 27th, 2010 at 1:45 pm
Ray Bachmann

As you ranke up class do you need to pay a greater monthly fee?

August 29th, 2012 at 6:24 pm
Paul Buzel

I wish they would add a thing where if the contact is your back bumper and their front bumper, then the one who rear-ended you would get the 4x and you would get some reduced inc. Though it can be the fault of the person getting rear-ended, that is not usually the case.

September 22nd, 2012 at 1:04 pm
Sean Skirvin

The combination of virtual money (as George Kuiumji said above) along with Safe Racing system will be the best way for realistic behavior of the drivers. However i think that the safe racing system (especially for rookie div) is too strict.

November 25th, 2013 at 12:37 pm
George Spyropoulos

Sean i agree with your comment. i think the system they have got is really good if you have that self control to get better but safer. I only joined 2 weeks ago and this week is the 1st week i have been taking place in races. the 1st week was just practice constantly. i go at my own pace and always try to get out of the way for the faster drivers. (even if i do panic sometimes and end up taking myself off the track lol).But an experienced driver hitting up the rear is just as much a novice as i am. As an old real life racer in stocks and hotrods You should always expect the person infront to hit the brakes hard when they are learning. But thats just the way i use to drive on the track. anyway my little input is i think you shouldn’t get the full penalty for a rear accident…just my thoughts

March 27th, 2014 at 2:56 pm
Andy Harris

I wouldnt say i disagree with the safety rating itself! It promotes good clean racing. What i would say is that maybe it needs to be based on a point system! For example everyone starts a race with 20 points for each incident your involved in it deducts 5 points. Same for irateing this is only a example! I think it would be fair because the people who are racing clean wouldnt take a pounding on sr and ir because someone else run into them. And if this is maye how it allready works then it really needs to be tweaked down a little.

April 10th, 2014 at 6:38 am
Darrin Isenberg
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