Trucker fatalities accounted for nearly 40 percent of all worker deaths in 2016, and several trucking companies are launching virtual reality (VR) training simulations to increase safety for both drivers and the public. For companies with large fleets of trucks, virtual reality training is proving to be a low-cost way to deliver consistent, high-quality training to drivers that are located throughout the nation and even around the world.
Natural gas supplier Linde North America, with over 5,000 employees throughout the U.S. and Canada, has initiated a virtual reality training course for its drivers that is focused on improving safety and accuracy with regard to the loading and unloading of hazardous liquid gases such as cryogenic nitrogen. Handling these gases, which register -320°F when they are unloaded from tankers at medical and industrial facilities, is extremely specialized, but with VR courseware, Linde is able to help drivers gain confidence and experience as they practice the complicated unloading procedure without the risk of accident or injury.
In 2017, United Parcel Service (UPS) also started to use VR as a part of their new driver safety training, and plans to use virtual reality exercises to train 4,000 drivers this year. VR modules are used to pinpoint potential road hazards such as pedestrians, parked vehicles, and oncoming traffic, and UPS believes that VR will help attract a larger pool of candidates to help counteract the industry’s chronic shortage of qualified drivers.
VR Motion, Inc. is an Oregon-based company that’s currently developing VR-based driver training for auto-related industries, and feels that truck drivers are an ideal candidate. “We have surveys from law enforcement training officers who’ve said without a doubt this is a tool we need because it’ll make better drivers,” says Dominic Dobson—former race car driver and co-founder of VR Motion, Inc. “Without a doubt, this is the future of driver training.”