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Using CDL Simulators to Protect Truckers on the Road

 

According to the latest reports from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, even as driving in the United States gets safer, CDL trucking continues to cost lives —especially among CDL operators themselves. Truck operator fatality rates are now at their highest level since 1988.

According to the report, “There were 36,560 people killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes on U.S. roadways during 2018, a 2.4-percent decrease from 37,473 in 2017, which came after a 0.9-percent decrease from 2016 to 2017.” But even as roadway fatalities decreased overall, fatal crashes involving large trucks went up about 5 percent. This continued a disturbing trend: Digging into NHTSA’s newly released Fatality and Injury Reporting System Tool (FIRST), we see that even as fatal motor vehicle crashes have generally declined at an increasing rate over the past several years, fatal motor vehicles crashes including a large trucks have increased every single year since 2014 (the earliest stats currently included in the tool). This holds for both younger and older operators.

In fact, truck operators were one of the very few groups that saw increased traffic fatalities in 2018 (the most recent year for which this NHTSA has prepared final reports). The other two?

Pedestrians and bicyclists —two groups notable by the fact that they aren’t protected by tons of rolling iron.

Distracted Driver’s Endanger Truckers

According to Chris Spear, chief executive of the American Trucking Association (ATA), roughly two-thirds of the time, in car-truck collisions it is the passenger vehicle at fault. In his opinion, distracted driving among the general population is a major contributing factor. And Spear’s isn’t alone: The NSC (National Safety Council) believers distracted driving accounts for at least a quarter of all traffic accidents. Given motorists’ propensity to fib about behind-the-wheel phone use (and the fact that industry studies have found that 70% of all drivers use their smartphone while driving), some insurance companies estimate that distracted driving accounts for up to half of all collisions.

Unsurprisingly, the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) reports that commercial drivers themselves rate distracted driving among the top ten <a href=LINK to blog #1 TK>critical issues</a> in their industry. In a 2018 interview with Trucks.com, Jeromy Hodges (a retired trucker from Victoria, TX) noted that distracted drivers were the final straw for him: “[It’s become] such a dangerous job with all the distracted drivers out there. I didn’t want to press my luck any longer.” He quit CDL trucking in 2016.

Recent surveys and research confirm that motorists stubbornly continue to play with their phones while driving—and cause accidents by doing so—despite ever-increasing legal and social pressure to stop. Since we can’t get the average driver to improve their behavior, our best alternative is to help truckers become even better defensive drivers.

CDL Simulators Enhance Situational Awareness

It’s increasingly clear that, as with other large vehicle operators, situational awareness is a critical skill that truckers need to stay safe on the road. But traditional CDL training programs fall short with situational awareness. There is no safe way to teach it behind the wheel, and no effective way to teach it via textbook, video, or PowerPoint.

That’s why ever FAAC immersive large vehicle simulator (including the CDL simulator solution) comes with a full library of scenarios —and the ability to tweak any scenario (even while running). You can challenge each trainee’s capacity to maintain focus and identify threats and hazards —at any time, and in ways tailored to surface and eliminate their “blindspots.”