By John Kearney
Increasingly, job-seekers hoping to become professional truck drivers are turning toward community colleges, vocational schools, and high schools that offer commercial driver’s license (CDL) training. A growing number of these schools, often with financial support from the trucking industry, are investing in virtual reality simulation to supplement traditional behind-the-wheel instruction.
This adoption of simulation as a key component of driver training is an encouraging sign of progress in the effort to rebuild America’s depleted supply of commercial truckers. Current industry estimates show that there are 50,000 fewer short- and long-haul truckers in the U.S. than are needed, a total that, if nothing changes, could reach 150,000 by 2028. One component of the problem is an aging workforce; the average over-the-road trucker is 46, an average age that is increasing as too few new truckers enter the field.
A question of access
The problem is not lack of interest or disdain for the job; polls show that trucking is a highly-regarded industry. The problem is access to training and licensure. In re licensing, simulators could be used by state DMV offices to reduce waiting time for a CDL road test—another bottleneck in the supply of new drivers. The technology can simulate, and test a driver’s reaction to, any imaginable driving situation—from a clear road on a sunny day to a tire blowout in a snowstorm—without endangering anyone and without the need to go outside the DMV office.
If state departments of motor vehicles do opt to shift to simulation for the applied portion of their testing requirements, they can be guided by the experience of educational institutions, for whom it is becoming an increasingly indispensable instructional resource.
Answering a need
In addition to easing the needs of industry, the growing adoption of simulator training by community colleges, vocational schools, and other secondary education venues offers the nation’s young people—nearly 65% of whom will not go on to earn a college degree—an easily available path to employment in a stable, respected, and well-paid profession. For them, and for the U.S. economy, which relies on trucking for over 70% of all shipping, the combination of schools and simulation is an answer to a deepening need.
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.