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Do commercial truck driving simulators improve road safety?

We frequently write about the fact that the approaches that federal regulators and the trucking industry take are vital to ensuring that American highways remain as safe as possible for all motorists. One of the great challenges that commercial drivers face in preventing trucking accidents is gaining valuable operating experience as novices without having to endanger other motorists as they are learning how to drive big trucks safely.

A new study indicates that commercial driving simulators may help to solve this problem. On the one hand, simulators cannot perfectly mirror road conditions, unexpected obstacles and the feel of driving a big truck. On the other hand, these simulators allow novice drivers to practice various hazardous scenarios a number of times. These drivers can therefore think through how they would handle certain situations without endangering other motorists as they practice their responses.

Recently, the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) studied the ways in which simulator training impacts the safety-related performance of commercial truck drivers. Ultimately, the ATRI determined that full-scale simulators most greatly impact safety performance for the better, but any simulated driver training may enhance the safety performance of drivers.

Simulated driving training is arguably more efficient than real-world training and simulated training results are inherently easier to track. However, it is ultimately important that drivers be exposed to both real-world training and simulated training. While simulated driving training may allow novice drivers more experience in certain scenarios, drivers must also be given real-world training that allows them to navigate roads safely before they set out on their own.

Source: CCJ, “ATRI study: driver simulators lower cost, improve safety,” Aaron Huff, Feb. 14, 2014

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