MPRI trains D.C. snowplow drivers with simulation software

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MPRI — a provider of vehicle and maritime simulator products, services and turnkey training facilities — recently announced it will provide simulator-based training for snowplow drivers in Washington D.C. About 200 drivers of light and heavy snowplows will be trained on a TranSim VS IV simulator with software tailored specifically for the District of Columbia. MPRI says this marks the first time that the district has offered simulator training to its snowplow operators.

“Since most snow events in the D.C. area tend to be moderate, with only a few inches of accumulation, it is difficult to provide snowplow drivers with the training they need to prepare for the major snowstorms we typically experience every few years,” says William Howland, director of the Washington D.C. Department of Public Works. “In the past, we’ve tried training drivers using sand instead of snow, but we felt it didn’t offer a realistic learning experience. I am confident the simulator training will better prepare our drivers to handle the varied winter storms that we see here in D.C.”

MPRI — which says it is the only company in North America with exclusive snowplow software, which includes various snowplow vehicle types and plowing scenarios — says it has taught employees of more than eight state transportation departments, as well as several other state and local agencies. The TranSim VS IV simulator used for snowplow training provides students a more realistic training environment, according to the company; it also features six replay views, allowing for immediate and detailed performance feedback.

“I believe the department’s decision to seek out driver simulator training really demonstrates its dedication to the safety of its drivers and the residents of Washington D.C.,” says Terry Tucker, senior vice president of Alexandria, Va.-based MPRI. “I am confident the high degree of realism offered by our TranSim VS IV will give snowplow drivers the practical, most effective behind-the-wheel driving experience they need to prepare for the upcoming winter season.”

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The software that will be utilized during training is customized specifically for Washington D.C. and will include streets that are a mix of expressways, bridges, four-lane arterial streets, two-lane collector streets and single-lane residential streets, MPRI says; local D.C.-area landmarks and street signs also add to the realism of the simulated environment, which will feature both daytime and nighttime scenarios, with varying conditions such as snow, fog and icy roads.

“I share Mr. Howland’s interest in this training program and look forward to seeing the results,” says Emeka Moneme, director of the D.C. Department of Transportation. “It requires a certain level of expertise to safely operate a snowplow. Allowing our drivers the opportunity to practice difficult scenarios in a risk-free environment will enhance their ability to safely plow under varied snow conditions. We have some drivers who have been with us for years, and others who will be plowing for the first time this year, and I feel that training on a simulator will be of great assistance to all of them.”