Simulating Safety: Taking Training to the Next Level
Keeping America moving requires attentiveness, professionalism, and knowing how to act quickly in unpredictable situations. Driver safety is an essential priority to TMC Transportation, and that principle is engraved from the moment a new driver steps foot onto a TMC training yard. TMC has one of the best training programs in the country, ensuring each student that comes through the program has the confidence and capabilities to be a successful and safe driver. During the beginning phases of the program, drivers complete a portion of their training on a driver simulator. This takes training to the next level, adding heightened safety, knowledge, and expertise for new drivers.
TMC’s simulators are from L3 Harris, an American technology company, defense contractor, and information technology services provider. TMC has had these simulators since roughly 2007. The L3 Harris website states that these simulators provide a “hands on experience without risks to people or equipment.” Simulators have abilities to test, reset, and replay scenarios to make adjustments to mistakes. It is incredibly beneficial to be able to address these scenarios and fix potential errors prior to going out on the open road. On top of being safer for both the driver and the training department, simulators allow driving practice without using fuel or equipment. The added technology is both eco-friendly and cost-effective.
According to Matt Jorgensen, the simulator expert of the TMC training department, drivers that come through the simulator program have an edge when they graduate from orientation and continue training with a driver trainer. Simulators are an asset to training for rare or critical events that may not present themselves during training. These include hazards such as heavy traffic, severe weather, animal crossings, construction or unpredictability of other drivers on the road. A new driver can get a feel for what these events are like in the simulator, which in turn gives them the ability to promptly and safely react when the hazard arises on the job after training. “I can build scenarios to fit most problems that I see drivers and our safety department are dealing with,” Jorgensen explains. “It’s one thing for students to tell me what they would do in a certain situation, but it’s entirely different for them to actually show me.”
The simulators add standardization to the training program, allowing each driver to get the same instant feedback for situations that are rare or random in traffic environments. “They (drivers) like the fact it opens their eyes a little bit more to what they may experience out there on the road and handling situations without the physical risk,” Jorgensen explains. The information Jorgensen gathers in the simulator phase is passed on to training coordinators, who then speak to driver trainers in their weekly conversations. Observations done by different trainers around the facility are discussed, looking for positive progression of the student. Once trainers feel a driver is ready, the driver can also feel confident they can handle the random events that freight travel can bring.
TMC truly cares about driver success and long-term employment, which is one of the many reasons why driver safety is of utmost importance. Driver simulators take training to the next level, highlighting and enhancing driver skills that are necessary in critical events. From brand new Class A drivers to seasoned drivers who are in need of some refreshing, TMC’s driver simulators sharpen skills for all backgrounds. “We’ve had thousands upon thousands of students come through the simulator program,” Jorgensen explains. “Most of the students tell me they appreciate that TMC is using the simulators and what we are trying to accomplish.”