According to OSHA, motor vehicle crashes cost employers over $60 billion annually. It is difficult to invest in your organization's operations, equipment, staff, payroll, or benefits without first attending to lowering risk costs. Government fleet drivers and public safety officers can get complacent over time when driving their fleet vehicles. This complacency leads to bad habits that need to be addressed for the safety of the driver and the public. Habits can be as simple as poor hand position on the steering wheel, not scanning the environment for hazards, or switching between tasks.
Crash statistics from NHTSA and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, motor vehicle crashes are one of the leading causes of work-related injuries and fatalities in the U.S. The solid waste, public works, and utility industries alone have some of the largest cases of incidents across all sectors. NHTSA studies confirm that over 94% of crash incidents are a result of poor decision making, not vehicle handling or maneuvering. Despite this, most traditional driver training focuses on learning how better to control the vehicle. Driver factors include both performance errors and errors related to non-driving activities, which typically involve distraction, inattention, inadequate surveillance, etc. Similar studies have proven the effectiveness of implementing driving simulators to enhance and improve an established safety program for fleet operations.
OSHA provides online guidelines for employers to help reduce motor vehicle crashes and set up a safe driving program to keep your employees safe on the road. While many crashes are non-preventable, data indicates that most are preventable. No organization can afford to ignore a major problem that has such a serious impact on both their personnel and budget. By implementing a driver safety program in the workplace, you can greatly reduce the risks faced by your employees.
Government fleets should consider their employees to be the most valuable asset. Crashes on or even off the job have far-reaching financial and psychological effects on employees, their families, coworkers, and employers. Workplace safety programs implementing driving simulators are proven to:
- Improve employee recruitment and retention, demonstrating that employers care about their employees' ongoing skills
- Help to save lives and reduce the risk of life-altering injuries within your workforce.
- Protect your agencies public image, human and financial resources.
- Safeguard against any employees driving fleet vehicles that have the potential for liability.1
THE CHALLENGES OF TRADITIONAL TRAINING
It is safe to assume that it is safer to fly in a plane across the country compared to driving a few miles down the road in your car? Driving environments are difficult to stage for training. Drivers are often exposed to uncontrollable, hazardous, and often risky conditions that require critical decision-making skills. To improve their skills, drivers must be exposed to dangerous and oftentimes chaotic situations, become familiar with potential risks and threats, and be allowed to practice appropriate responses. Practicing behind the wheel training is very risky – especially since it can expose drivers to hazards, danger, chaos, and risks of physical harm or property damage. Instructors often have to correct or even rescue students from mistakes made during training maneuvers – This absolves students of their responsibility for achieving the desired outcome. Danger, chaos, and the threat of physical harm creates stress for the student, and stress has a negative impact on learning and retention.
WHY SIMULATION WORKS
Simulation is a proven training tool and approach to improve decision-making skills and reaction time. If you think about the training that emergency responders, military fighter pilots, or law enforcement must complete. Professionals that work in these high-risk environments often receive hundreds of hours of simulation-based training yet perform with the highest level of safety and standards.
- Simulators immerse the student in a real-life scenario.
- Introduces the student to life-threatening situations.
- Allows the students to make the bad decision in a controlled, risk-free environment to learn from their mistakes.
- Allows instructors to observe, assess and correct the student.
- Allows the student to practice and repeat the proper response.
- Enhances driver skills, improve their driving behavior and master decision making skills in stressful situations.
VERSATILE, TARGETED TRAINING PATHS
Simulation can be used to train government fleet drivers at all levels in their career:
- Pre-Hire Screening Assessment Tools - Reduce washout and make sure you know who you’re hiring with automated skills assessments, profiling & screening.
- Entry-Level & New Hire Onboarding - Integrate new drivers into your culture and your standards. Get drivers on the road quickly without sacrificing safety.
- Safety Refresher Skills Training - Retain knowledge and reinforce desired behaviors through skills enhancement.
- Post-Incident & Remediation - Review the causes of minor and major accidents, reinforce safe procedures, and improve decision making.
- Advanced Skills & Career Development - Advance drivers skillset from basic to advanced. Learn new skills.
- Fleet Performance Management Services - analyze training data and skills measurement to manage operational training efficiency.
KNOWLEDGE VS. SKILLS TRAINING
Classroom training and self-paced online training can deliver the knowledge necessary to operate a vehicle. However, being told how to react in a dangerous situation isn't nearly as effective as having the opportunity to physically react to it. When it comes to human performance and adult learning, certain training methods are more effective than others. True, not everyone learns in the same manner. However, it is difficult to learn how to "do" something simply by listening to someone lecture or by reading a book. Consider the following in the context of operating a motor vehicle:
- Jobs that require us to perform a task or service involve acquiring skills
- Which implies a form of action. Put simply, to learn a skill -- you must actually do it!
- Action demands a physical component that allows us to perform the task in the right context so we can extract the proper psychomotor feedback necessary to complete the task.
- Safe motor vehicle operation requires both knowledge and skill.
WHY DRIVING SIMULATION IS UNIQUE
Simulators are not meant to replace behind the wheel training or teach drivers how to drive a vehicle. Simulation-based training focuses on improving decision-making skills:
- Reinforce positive driving habits and behavior behind the wheel
- Driving simulators provide hands-on, experiential training, offering experience that matters
- Zero risks to people or equipment
- As a training tool, they have also been proven to help optimize and compress training through accelerated repetition of learning objectives.
Driving Simulators introduce your fleet drivers to challenging situations that target skill development and increase the trainee's situational awareness, self-awareness, and critical thinking skills. Scenarios are designed to get a driver's eyes down the road, maximizing reaction, and decision making time when a hazard is presented. Simulator training improves your driver's critical driving skills, enhance decision-making abilities, and increase the safety of your staff and the community you serve.
Driving simulators are a highly effective tool to recreate conditions that have occurred within an agency's specific motor vehicle incident reports. Scenarios provide training on hazardous situations too risky to replicate or control at a training facility, range, or on the roads. Simulators allow fleet drivers to experience situations and fail safely without putting public motorists or pedestrians at risk. Scenarios address key motor vehicle operation skills, including vehicle handling, scanning, road hazards, adverse weather, and negotiating traffic in different conditions.
1. Dept. of Labor, OSHA. Guidelines for Employers to Reduce Motor Vehicle Crashes, OSHA, 2020, www.osha.gov/Publications/motor_vehicle_guide.html