Trucking School Classrooms Vs. Truck Driver Simulators

Tuesday, Feb 5 2019 admin

black peterbilt semi on the roadIn your quest to become the best truck driver on the planet, you’re considering going to truck driving school. As you’ve researched schools and training programs, you have seen schools that offer driver simulators. Then you have schools that stick strictly to in-person instructors. Which is better for a new driver who is training to get a commercial driver’s license? Let’s take a look at the types of training available at most modern trucking schools in the US.

About Driver Instructors

A driving instructor is typically someone who has ample behind the wheel experience as a professional truck driver. They are willing to put their own experiences to task as a driver mentor. You can ask them questions that come to mind on the spot about being a truck driver. In addition, while you train on the road or in the yard, the instructor is there to assist you in real time when you make driving mistakes.

At the same time, hiring a professional driving mentor to work with you is expensive. This is the most costly type of truck driver training. While you can hire someone to work with you independently as a driver mentor, this is the most expensive type of training. Generally, student drivers in trucking schools get to work with driving instructors one-on-one.

The only drawback can be the fact that some CDL training programs have a high ratio of drivers to students. Ideally, you want to attend a truck driving school and program that lets you get the most time as possible behind the wheel with the instructor. A small student to instructor ratio, such as five to one or even 10 to one, is well suited for classes.

However, you also have to keep in mind how long you have with the instructor. Take, for example, you sign up for a truck driver training program that lasts for only one week. Then you aren’t going to get the same amount of time as a student driver in an eight-week daily CDL training course—even if you have a smaller class size.

About Driver Simulators

A driver simulator is best described as an arcade-style driving game. You sit in a driving simulator that features a video screen and game style playing system. You are driving a Class 8 truck from behind the screen in place of a windshield. You have access to dials and controls that are the standard for big rigs. In addition, you are required to complete driving scenarios on the screen.

The theory is that you are training to drive a truck without putting yourself at risk like you would when training over the road. Are driving simulators effective? Consider that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has been increasing the amount of time flight students can spend via flight simulators, which are on par with truck driving simulators. The FAA started allowing students to use simulators in the 1970s.

As of April 2016, the FAA and the Department of Transportation increased the number of time students can spend training using flight simulators to up to 10 credit hours for basic training and 20 hours for advanced training. The 20 hours has doubled from the previous ruling.

The FAA also notes that flight simulators need to be updated to keep up with accuracy and real-time scenarios that are commonplace. The technology is available, and the FAA is requiring flight simulator manufacturers to update their systems with the new rules by March 2019.

What this means for the trucking industry is that we can anticipate a growing trend and use of driving simulators to help student drivers train. Driving simulators are cost-effective solutions. In addition, students who live in states that have few CDL training programs can use simulators with confidence that the training is effective.

The only catch with using driver simulators is finding access to them. Typically, you would go through a truck driving school to access this type of training. However, there are some trucking companies also offer simulator training as part of their CDL school. Search for trucking companies that train truck drivers here at Trucker Classifieds.

Choosing the Best Program for Your CDL Training

So should you go with a human driving instructor or stick with a driving simulator? The best option is to find what works best for you as a new truck driver! Look for CDL training at a facility that offers real-world hands-on instruction with a driving mentor who has ample driving experience. Then make sure they also offer the latest technology including driving simulators for truck drivers. This way you have twice the amount of opportunities to train behind the wheel while you go to trucking school. You get the most bang for your buck even if you have a large class size or few instructors there to assist you.

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