Due to a truck’s large size, trucking accidents are usually some of the most devastating roadway collisions that can occur. Unfortunately, many car accident attorneys have seen the number of trucking accidents increase in recent years. In order to combat the problem at its core, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is studying commercial driver’s license training programs. One recent study evaluated the effectiveness of using driving simulators in entry-level commercial motor vehicle driver testing and training.
In order to evaluate the effectiveness of simulation training, researchers compared the results of four types of entry-level training offered to commercial drivers. These include the following:
- Conventional training – includes classroom and behind-the-wheel training. In order to reach Professional Truck Driver Institute certification, these programs must include 104 hours in the classroom and 44 hours behind the wheel.
- Simulator training – Classroom and BTW training are included, however 60 percent of the BTW training was done within a simulator.
- Informal training – this training occurs in a non-structured setting. A family member may perform the training, but no requirements are met, and the trainer may not be certified.
- CDL-focused Training – includes BTW and classroom training but is usually completed in much less time than conventional training. Curriculum is tailored to the basic information and skills required to obtain a CDL instruction permit and pass the Department of Motor Vehicles’ road test.
The simulator provided students with a tractor-trailer in which 5 60-inch screens with projected images surrounded a generic truck cab. This provided the participant with a clear 225 degree forward field of view. All equipment within the cab was original and working, and the simulator provided real-time responses to environmental driving conditions, such as heave, roll and pitch. Various scenarios, such as a truck accident, could be programed into the simulator for inclusion in the training program.
Study participants were scored on road and range tests performed at the Delaware Technical and Community College testing facility and within the simulator. Results from tests performed by the DMV prior to CDL certification were also included. All tests were performed in the same scenario using DMV criteria.
While conventional and simulator training groups had little variation in results, they had higher DMV road test scores than both informal and CDL-focused programs. CDL-programs also had the lowest scores for the DCTT range tests, and simulator groups scored highest on the simulator tests. In almost every test, conventional and simulator training groups out-performed both the informal and CDL-focused programs.
Based on these results, researchers believe that simulator-based training may not only be feasible, but highly effective in preparing new CDL holders for the rigors of the road. However, until these programs are put in place and negligence is reduced among truckers, accidents will likely continue to occur at increasing rates.