CHARLOTTE, NC - United Rentals, Inc. (URI) and L-3 MPRI kicked off a driver safety initiative designed to improve and promote safety among United Rentals drivers on April 14.

Led by fleet manager Cathy Crewson, United Rentals ranked #38 on the Top 300 Commercial Fleets and #25 on the Top 100 Truck Fleets listings in 2009, operating more than 7,400 vehicles.

L-3 MPRI provides airport ramp, ground vehicle, and maritime simulator products, as well as training services and turnkey training facilities.

The year-long program, which began last month, will train 4,250 drivers at approximately 70 locations across the United States and Canada. 

MPRI's mobile training facilities comprise two trailers, each containing two TranSim VS IV driver training simulators and classrooms. They are dispatched to United Rentals facilities where instructors guide students through a two-hour course on close-quarter maneuvering and distracted driving.  

The custom curriculum was developed by workforce education experts to meet the unique needs of United Rentals' CDL and non-CDL drivers. The course challenges drivers to be aware of surroundings and demonstrate finely tuned skills in maneuvering vehicles within close quarters. Drivers also practice following detailed instructions while performing complicated vehicle maneuvers. Scenarios such as receiving cell phone calls and text messages, navigating with a map binder and drinking hot beverages are incorporated into the simulated experience to highlight the hazards of common drive-time activities.  


The program also includes a rodeo-style driving competition. After completing the class, each driver will compete in a simulator-based contest. Various elements of their performance will be scored as drivers conduct intricate vehicle operations and navigate obstacles. Based on their scores, the top CDL and top two non-CDL performers from each of nine regions will be awarded prizes and qualify for the final rodeo competition to be held at United Rentals' Dallas headquarters. The rodeo is designed to keep drivers engaged in this safety-related program all year long. 

"United Rentals is at the forefront of driver training. By utilizing our world-class Training Systems Group, they are delivering a total training solution that includes custom curriculum development, human performance assessments, advanced distributed course development and state-of-the-art simulation-based training," said Dennis Corrigan, senior vice president and general manager of MPRI's Training Systems Group. "The result will be a driver force that experiences fewer accidents and is mindful of safety at every turn." 

"This marks the third MPRI-led driver training program we have conducted, and previous programs garnered very successful results -- including a 42 percent reduction in accidents following the space management course," said Heidi Rawe, senior director of sustainability for United Rentals. "Through this original curriculum and unique rodeo-style competition, we look forward to further strengthening our drivers' commitment to safety." 

The TranSim VS IV provides high-fidelity, real-world driving environments that can be customized for various markets, including trucking, snowplow, bus, ready mix, fire, police, EMS and the military. 

The software delivers lifelike graphics using a three-channel plasma screen, MPRI said. Drivers are immersed in myriad driving conditions in a risk-free setting. Force-loaded steering provides real-time feedback to augment muscle memory in situations such as a tire blowout or sloshing loads, and users can choose from more than 140 transmissions, 240 engines and 33 axle ratios to simulate nearly any vehicle type.