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UDOT’s Snowplow Drivers Utilize High-Tech Simulators To Improve Skills

Snowplows clear a freeway in a virtual reality driving environment used in a program to train Utah Department of Transportation snowplow operators. Psychology Professor David Strayer of the University of Utah helped develop the training program.


Nov. 17, 2003 — Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) snowplow drivers are undergoing training with state-of-the-art snowplow simulators Nov. 10-21 in an effort to better develop their skills. The training program is a joint project by UDOT, General Electric’s Driver Development unit and the University of Utah.

The innovative training solution — mutually developed by instructional designers at GE Driver Development, UDOT subject matter experts and researchers at the University of Utah — incorporates detailed classroom instruction and motion-based truck simulators built by GE.

“We identified what UDOT felt were the critical things that their drivers need to know,” said Dave Strayer, University of Utah professor of psychology and principal investigator on the snowplow training initiative. “The project will pay for itself in terms of the savings in fuel, savings in driver safety and increased public safety overall.”

The training sessions are conducted at GE Driver Development’s headquarters, 2961 West California Ave., Salt Lake City, UT. Representatives of the news media are invited to a news conference and demonstration at that location at 10:00 a.m. MST on Weds. Nov. 19.

The training project will allow snowplow operators to improve their decision driving skills by maneuvering their vehicles through a simulated winter environment. Conducted in four-hour segments, the drivers will train in controlling snowplow speed, keeping the vehicles in a correct tandem position and communication with other operators.

“We are excited about using this technology to help improve our operators’ driving abilities,” said Dave Miles, UDOT operations engineer. “Driving the snowplow is much more complicated than it looks. Anything we can do to better prepare our drivers to deal with the unique situations and conditions that arise when plowing will benefit both the driver and the public.”

“Increased driver safety and snow removal productivity are the direct and immediate benefits of training through simulation,” said Brian Runkle, business leader for GE Driver Development. “We’re very pleased to partner with UDOT and the University of Utah in this initiative and implement our technology to the state’s snowplow fleet and potentially drivers from other regions adversely affected by winter conditions”.

GE Driver Development offers simulation-based training solutions for the transportation and law enforcement industries. GE Driver Development also manufactures and markets the TranSimVS (TM), Mark II (TM) and PatrolSim (TM) driving training simulators. GE Driver Development is a division of GE Commercial Equipment Financing and a unit of GE Commercial Finance. GE is a diversified services, technology and manufacturing company with operations worldwide.

Strayer’s widely publicized research on how cellular phone use distracts motorists was conducted on a GE-built patrol car simulator.