Though effective, training in the classroom setting for on the job skills has its limitations. At SRP, we strive to bring innovation to the field of environmental health and safety training. Our training includes application activities where learned skills and knowledge can be directly applied to real-life situations.
Cutting Edge Driver Training
The latest advancement in driver safety courses, the Virtual HDTM driving simulator, is “a voice controlled, interactive simulation-based driver safety program designed to improve hazard recognition skills, lower accident rates and reduce distracted driving.” The simulator is a product of Virtual Driver Interactive, a driving safety company known for its use of cutting edge technology.
Used to train corporate transportation fleets in a time effective manner, the Virtual HDTM driving simulator is focused on “eliminating the primary reason why drivers become involved in a crash: a failure to recognize and react to hazardous driving situations.”
This technology can simulate a wide variety of vehicle types and classes and easily allows students to experience a variety of weather and road conditions on several different types of driving surfaces from parking lot, to city, to residential, to highway settings.
How Traditional Training Falls Short
When it comes to training corporate fleets of drivers, the United States requires drivers to have a CDL license in the class of commercial motor vehicle that they will be driving. According to the U.S. Department of Motor Vehicles, “Commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) are so unlike regular passenger cars and trucks that it’s impossible to get behind the wheel of a Class A, B, or C truck without having had not just a little special schooling-but a lot.”
However, the driving skills tested by the DMV mainly focus on the basic skills needed to operate the vehicle. The examiner will check to make sure the applicant for the CDL license can start and top the vehicle, parallel park, handle the gears appropriately, obey traffic signals and signs, safely change lanes, make turns, and merge into traffic. But the appropriate reactions to road hazards from the driver are only tested in the written test.
CDL students diligently master the training they receive to prepare them for a written exam and a driving skills test. But while traditional training prepares them to perform well on their exam, for most drivers the real lessons will be learned on the road.
The most recently released report on commercial motor vehicle crashes by the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles reports the statistics from 2012. According to the Texas DMV, in Texas alone there were a total of 26,403 CMV crashes during 2012. The vast majority of these crashes resulted in injury to the employee or damage to the vehicle. However, 460 fatal crashes occurred resulting in the deaths of 525 people, some of who were in non-commercial vehicles involved in the crash.
From the standpoint of safety training, it is natural to wonder how many of these crashes might have been prevented if better training had been provided initially to the drivers of the vehicles.
Real-World Preparation: Going Beyond Traditional Training
Traditional training is ironically limited by the safety requirements of the program. Students cannot face actual road hazards because they put themselves, the instructors, the vehicle, and other drivers in danger. Adverse weather conditions, actual and unanticipated road obstacles, hydroplaning, and skidding are not situations the DMV simulates and tests.
Before the digital era, such hazards were learned over time on the road through actual experience. Simulation training helps students to apply existing knowledge by through real-time use of the information applicants for a CDL typically study for a written test only.
Additionally, an important part of the learning process of any skill is self-evaluation and improvement. After the heat of the moment with a driving instructor or examiner sitting next to you, it can be difficult to remember the exact conditions that influenced you to make a certain decision while driving. Using a voice-controlled headset and the simulator system students Virtual HDTM can replay a student’s driving, which allows them to analyze and evaluate the choices they made.
Lastly, the Virtual HDTM program offered by SRP requires only 90 minutes of training to fully prepare a driver for real-world problems and solutions on the road.