McColl's banks on truck simulator to improve safety

McColl's Transport hopes state-of-the-art mobile truck simulator will improve safety

McColl's banks on truck simulator to improve safety
McColl's banks on truck simulator to improve safety
By Ruza Zivkusic | February 8, 2011

They say practice makes perfect and that is just what truck drivers now can do to prepare themselves for the most uncommon circumstances on the road.

McColl’s Transport and the Victorian Transport Association (VTA) today launched a state-of-the-art mobile truck simulator which will help drivers experience any kind of situation by putting them to the test in a hi-tech multi-screen simulator.

The $500,000 worth device is set to train 500 drivers across the country, allowing them to practice difficult conditions over and over again.

With 240 people killed in crashes involving heavy vehicles in Australia each year, McColl’s together with VTA is on a mission to bring that figure down, McColl’s CEO Simon Thornton says.

"You never get good at something if you experience it once in every eight years. Here we can make sure that every driver experiences it in the safety of the simulator and then we can make sure once they’ve experienced (the incident) if they don’t like the feeling of it they can just do it over and over again," Thornton says.

From dealing with a flat steering tyre to driving on wet, slippery roads, drivers will be able to perfect their skills.

The simulator is able to mimic different scenarios and train drivers on ways to handle their vehicle in a safe and real-life environment, Thornton says.

The three-plasma screens provide the feeling of a real vehicle with force-loaded steering and real-time feedback to help muscle memory.

But changing driver’s attitude is challenging and will take some time, Thornton says.

"Often drivers come with a naturally negative view what they can learn from a play station but they get in and walk away with experience- they are very excited about it," he says.

The simulator also plays an important role in driving fuel efficiency and reducing carbon emissions, with companies able to save up to 15 percent in fuel costs each year, Thornton says.

"Our drivers will learn essential tips on green driving to contribute to a sustainable future for the industry," he says.

"Out of the handful of drivers we have trained so far, we have already a reduced fuel consumption of up to nine percent. We spend around $20 million a year on our trucks alone so if you do the math, that’s quite a significant saving for the company," he says.

VTA CEO Phil Lovel, who along with 20 representatives from the transport industry is meeting with Victoria Police tomorrow to target heavy vehicle crashes and chain of responsibility obligations, welcomes the safety initiative.

He says the chances of a fatality in heavy vehicle crashes are three times higher than crashes involving light vehicles.

"We’re going with the mission tomorrow of explaining what the companies are doing in terms of safety. We want to know what the Deputy Commissioner Kieran Walshe knows about truck accidents and deaths, and to share that information with us," he says.

"We encourage all transport operators to work towards improving the overall road safety for the industry and the public.

"The VTA has been working closely with all sectors of the industry to develop new safety initiatives to overcome common issues including driver fatigue, driver distraction, speeding and tyre negligence."

Lovel says the partnership has led to a decreasing trend in road fatalities involving trucks over the last few years on Victorian roads.

McColl’s will drive the simulator across the country, conducting a series of training sessions involving simulation runs and classroom-style lessons for its drivers.

The company plans to provide up to 100 hours of refresher training every three years.

"A recent independent report recommended 80 percent of training could be done in a simulator, confirming how timely and important our new diver simulator is for the safety of our drives," Thornton says.

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