Schneider National giving driver training a makeover

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Schneider National has announced that it will transform its driver training program dramatically over the next two years, incorporating MPRI’s motion-based driver training simulator to better prepare drivers for situations on the road.

MPRI, based in Salt Lake City and with offices around the world, supplies ground vehicle and maritime simulation products and services as well as critical incident management and emergency response solutions. Schneider says the move makes it the largest truckload carrier in the industry to incorporate simulation-based training fleetwide.

“Through the years, Schneider’s training programs have been recognized as the gold standard in the industry when it comes to successfully preparing drivers for the rigors of the road,” said Don Osterberg, vice president of safety and training for Green Bay, Wis.-based Schneider. “But when it comes to safety, we always strive to do more. Using motion-based simulation technology allows us to train drivers for those situations that cannot safely be replicated under our current training methods.”

Under the program, Schneider will purchase simulators over the next 12 months for its network of driver training academies located across the United States and Canada. Schneider is incorporating simulation in its training program as it evolves to an integrated learning model. Currently, Schneider’s driver training program is primarily instructor-based. However, the new program will incorporate both computer and simulation training in order to expose drivers to a broader range of on-the-road scenarios, including driving in inclement weather, handling equipment failures or navigating heavy traffic.

“Think of it as an IMAX experience for trucking,” Osterberg said. “In the simulator, the driver’s seat and on-screen images will move, spin and rotate to create the sensation of different driving conditions. It’s amazing how realistic simulation makes these scenarios feel.”

Osterberg says the simulator can be customized by location, so that a driver in training can experience what it will look and feel like to deliver loads to different types of facilities in various geographic locations.

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Schneider piloted its new integrated learning model, including simulation, in September 2004. The carrier said that within five months, it saw fewer accidents and a significant reduction in the dropout rate for inexperienced and experienced drivers and fewer accidents.

“Simulation-based training has been highly successful in the U.S. military and in the airline industry, and we now have the opportunity to apply the same training method to the trucking industry in order to reduce accidents and improve safety for our drivers and the motoring public,” said Osterberg.