By John Kearney
The Boeing Company, which for months after a pair of crashes that killed a total of 346 people denied the need for extensive retraining for pilots of the troubled 737 Max, is now advocating that these pilots be given simulator training. Though this comes a little late, it’s still welcome news; Boeing is to be commended for recognizing the crucial importance of virtual-reality simulator training for situations in which mistakes can be fatal.
Like the pilots who will be in charge of the 737 Max when it returns to service, big-rig truck drivers hold the lives of others in their hands. Also, like airline pilots—and ship’s captains, and refinery and power plant operators, and workers in other high-consequence industries—truck drivers need to learn how to deal with the unexpected before it happens.
According to the widely accepted 70-20-10 model of learning and development, people learn 10% of what they need to know from classroom teaching, 20% from interaction with others, and 70% from direct experience. In high-consequence industries, like trucking, simulation is the only way you can get certain kinds of direct experience.
Which is why virtual reality simulation should be required for truckers, just as it is for pilots. We can’t have someone run out in front of an actual truck and force the driver to slam on his brakes, but we can in VR; we can’t have a trainee hit a patch of ice and go into a skid in an actual truck, but we can in VR. For the good of the drivers, the industry, and the public, it needs to be a part of every trucker’s training.
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