According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, among the 25 most dangerous jobs in America are taxi drivers (21st), truck drivers and driver/sales workers (seventh), and refuse and recyclable material collectors (fifth). Among these three job areas, there were over 1,000 fatal injuries and over 80,000 nonfatal injuries in 2017 alone.

Safety training is a critical function of any L&D organization that supports drivers. When human lives are on the line, ensuring effective training is more important than ever. Fortunately, technology makes the task easier than ever. Simulations can help new drivers learn the ropes without putting themselves – or anyone else – in danger. And putting video on the dashboard can help trainers and coaches improve the skills of drivers.

“When paired with enforced policies and procedures, as well as effective training protocols, Encompass video and camera footage of dangerous driving behaviors provides organizations with improved decision-making abilities, including how to most efficiently expend coaching resources for the drivers whose habits could have the greatest negative impact on the company,” says Amy Daley, senior product manager for tech solutions at J.J. Keller & Associates. The company is launching the Encompass video and dash cam solution to its product portfolio in April. Users will be able to set up alerts for certain behaviors they want to keep an eye on and then train and coach drivers accordingly.

Simulating Safety, Safely

John Kearney, CEO of Advanced Training Systems, believes that simulations are the best way to train new drivers on certain skills. “Computer-based training has a valuable place in the training process,” he says, “but a simulator actually allows the student to feel and, therefore, react properly to what is happening without risking an accident in a real truck.”

Events such as adverse weather, brake failure or animals appearing on the road must be experienced in order to learn – but that experience comes with risks if it’s done “IRL” (in real life). A good simulation presents those events, along with real-time feedback – such as what happens to the car if you slam on the brakes on ice or what happens if you run into a deer. Technological advances can help companies create these simulations.

“Every element of training is designed to safely deliver the right driving skills and proper decision-making and protect the public,” Kearney says. “Safety is paramount.”

Timely Training

Continuous training and coaching are important for any role, including drivers. It’s also, often, required to stay compliant with state and federal laws. “By taking an aggressive stance and dealing immediately with [dangerous] behaviors,” says Daley, “trainers and safety personnel create a positive safety culture, which supports – and even rewards – good driving behaviors while reducing bad driving habits.”

Daley adds that J.J. Keller will be using artificial intelligence (AI) later this year to recommend training based on the behaviors recorded with Encompass. “Giving fleets both the visibility to risk behaviors and the ability to immediately address the behaviors through training drastically reduces the potential for risk,” she says. As other industries have found, this adaptive learning can target specific behaviors for specific learners at specific times, creating greater efficiencies and more effective training. Since timeliness and relevance are both common safety training challenges, according to Daley, leveraging technology in this way can prove beneficial.

Paying the Price (or Not)

Most companies, says Kearney, believe that modern training tools are not cost-effective. However, the costs saved by having safer drivers (e.g., tires, transmissions, brakes and other parts; fuel; insurance; maintenance) makes up for the cost of the simulator, not to mention the saved training time and costs.

The alternative price – the lives of the poorly trained drivers and the people they interact with on the road? That’s a price companies should not be willing to pay.

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