Go By Truck, November 18, 2020: Before commercial truckers get behind the wheel of a big rig on a public road, they’ve undergone hundreds of hours of training to earn their Commercial Driver’s License. St. Petersburg-headquartered company Advanced Training Systems aims to make that training process safer and smoother through simulators and virtual reality.

ATS was founded in 2008 by people from three distinct areas of experience. Jim Voorhees developed driver training software using computer-based training. Reginal Welles and Enrique Mar Jr. brought engineering related to building the physical systems and the training software development experience. John Kearney, the ATS’s current CEO, brought his experience with training thousands of drivers at Roadmaster Drivers Schools.

“The ownership of ATS was composed of the three key disciplines that are required to accomplish the best training results,” said Kearney.

From the simulation software to the physical system and driver training, he said the company covered all necessary bases to prepare students for driving on the road. “Students should be able to go from the simulation to the real truck, get in it and drive.”

Recreating what a student would experience on the road is critical, said Kearney. “Learning that is not accurate to the experience in the real vehicle will produce improperly trained drivers who have accidents,” he said. “If the simulator doesn’t tell you exactly what would happen in a real truck, then you’re training wrong.”

Accurate simulations have real-world consequences. For many students, the first time they experience hazardous conditions such as rain or snow is in a simulator, so Kearney stressed the importance of depicting those conditions realistically.

“If you’re driving a truck over ice, there’s no way to train an individual how to manage that scenario except in a simulator,” he said. “If you wreck the vehicle and kill some people [on the road], that’s not good. You have to have the exact same feeling you’d have in a real truck in the simulator.”

In light of the coronavirus lockdown, ATS has offered its pre-trip application to driving students for free. The application walks trainees through things like pre-trip checklists, basic control skills exam and a road skills test.

Go By Truck News, September 3, 2020: November 18, 2020—A full 25% of recently surveyed U.S. adults said they or someone in their household had been laid off or lost a job due to the coronavirus outbreak.

While the unemployment rate dropped to 6.9% in October from April’s record high of 15%, John Kearney, CEO of Advanced Training Systems, notes that much of the drop was driven not by economic growth but by hundreds of thousands of people leaving the job market—the majority of them female.

One reason for the disproportionately high unemployment among women, Kearney notes, is the devastating effect of the COVID pandemic on traditionally female occupations. In March and April, hospitals began furloughing nurses and medical assistants chiefly used for routine or optional procedures. Daycare centers laid off over 250,000 workers. By April, 72% of housekeepers reported being abandoned by their clients. Restaurants laid off their servers, 70% of whom are women.

Opportunity knocks
For these now unemployed or underemployed women, Kearney says the current U.S. truck driver shortage represents a major opportunity. According to figures from the American Trucking Associations, the industry is short approximately 60,000 drivers.

To promote the career opportunities trucking offers women, celebrate their accomplishments, and remove obstacles female truck drivers face, the nonprofit Women in Trucking Association has launched the WIT Driver Ambassador Program. The next phase of the program will be a WIT-branded trailer that will tour the country promoting trucking as a viable opportunity for women and offering educational resources.

One of the shared goals of ATS and WIT, Kearney says, is to help accelerate the onboarding of new drivers—including women—to offset the effect of this year’s COVID-shuttered training schools and DMVs. The supply of drivers with newly acquired commercial driver’s licenses is down an estimated 35% from normal; meanwhile, recovery from the pandemic is expected to create excess freight demand and a shipping capacity crunch extending well into 2021. Given these figures, and the realities of a still somewhat challenging job market, there has never, says Kearney, been a better time for new drivers, especially women, to enter the trucking industry.

“On the technology and training side,” says Kearney, “ATS systems are helping produce better prepared, more confident, and safer drivers. On the human resources side, the motor freight industry is committed to being more inclusive and economically rewarding than it’s ever been. If you’re a woman looking for a new professional home, trucking might be the right place for you.”


For More Information

Advanced Training Systems has revolutionized the design and manufacture of high-tech simulators to improve driver training and create both better drivers and a safer world. In addition to hundreds of driving schools, we provide equipment and support for major shippers who do their own training, as well as customized solutions for those with particular training needs. For more information or to schedule a demo, please contact us here.