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How Do CDL Driving Simulators Address Critical Issues in Trucking?

Commercial trucking sits on the front lines of the global economy. When our economy is soaring, there’s more work than you can handle. But when it dips (or dives), truckers feel it first as shipments are delayed and ports close.

For the last 15 years, the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) has conducted an annual survey of the critical issues facing the trucking industry. Each year ATRI asks respondents (representing commercial trucking industry stakeholders from across North America) to rate the top three issues that worry them most, drawn from a list of 26 critical issues.

This year’s survey generated 2,119 responses —37 percent more than last year. Roughly half of the respondents (51.1%) represented motor carriers. A bit more than a third (35.3%) were commercial drivers themselves. The remainder (13.7%) represented various other industry stakeholders.

The issues that weigh on those within the industry have always been diverse:

  • Driver distraction
  • Driver training standards
  • Driver health, wellness, and compensation
  • Issues surrounding CSA (Compliance, Safety, and Accountability)
  • Ever-shifting Hours-of-Service rules, ELD mandates, and the cumulative burden of regulation
  • … and more

 

But two of the most consistent for the past decade have been the deeply intertwined issues of driver retention and the ongoing driver shortage —with the driver shortage topping the list for the last three years running. CDL driving simulator training programs can use the same hour of training to get more done, with superior skills development, and better retention of information. Sim-based training is especially well-suited to help motor carriers finally rise above these persistent staffing challenges.

 

Using a CDL Driving Simulator to Address the Truck Driver Shortage

As ATRI notes in their 2019 report:

“The Driver Shortage once again ranked as the industry’s top concern for the third consecutive year in 2019. As the industry struggles to recruit and retain qualified drivers, the latest estimates on the shortage from ATA are over 60,000 drivers are needed, with a potential shortfall of over 100,000 drivers over the next five years. The driver shortage is particularly acute in the over-the-road (OTR) truckload sector … With nearly a third of the industry’s workforce (29.3%) over the age of 55, the aging demographics of the trucking industry’s workforce puts significant pressure on the industry to increase the available pool of qualified truck drivers. Faced with a pending wave of driver retirements, nearly half of respondents (47.3%) indicated that the industry must continue to work with state and federal authorities to attract a new generation of qualified drivers to the industry.”

The mass-transit sector has long faced these very same issues: a shortage of qualified bus drivers, an aging workforce, and a lack of interest among Millennial workers.

How are they getting on top of their driver shortage (and the retention issues that make it even more severe)? Forward-looking transit agencies have embraced simulation training programs. Properly used, CDL driving simulators can create a more effective training environment (90% learning retention, 50–70% decrease in accidents, 35% improvement in new-hire retention, etc.) —with higher throughput overall. And it doesn’t hurt that this style of fast-feedback, highly immersive training seems to be an especially attractive training platform for Millennials.