Simulator offers real deal
DECA imports a top-end driver training tool, writesGRAHAMSMITH
PILOTS do much of their flight training in simulators and, if DECA gets its way, so will truck drivers. One of the country’s leading driver-training organisations, DECA has imported three of the latest heavy-truck simulators from the US and plans to add another two to its virtual fleet later this year.
The public will get the chance to try the simulator at the Melbourne International Truck and Trailer Exhibition next month.
Using simulators substantially shortens the time needed to get a rookie driver on to the road. It can also be used to sharpen the skills of an experienced driver to improve fuel economy and safety.
The simulator is an accurate representation of a truck. The seat, steering wheel and turn signal stalk are all real, as are the truck and trailer brake controls on the dash to the left of the driver — which is just where they’d be in an actual truck. But it goes beyond the generic. DECA managing director Ian Bushby can dial up just about any type of truck seen on the road, from rigids to prime movers and B-doubles. There’s even a representation of a B-triple similar to the one DECA has added to its training fleet.
It’s also possible to select the brand of truck and the model, engine, transmission and final drive ratio. Bushby has had the actual dash layouts entered into the software. Select a Volvo, or any one of several makes of trucks, and the appropriate dash layout will come up on the simulator’s dash.
The simulator also has the correct power and torque curves for the engine selected.
Making a mistake, such as miss- ing a shift, results in realistic and embarrassing crunching noises.
Bushby is also able to call up myriad driving situations on the three screens the driver faces.
He can make it rain, hail, sleet or snow, cover the road in black ice and even send a child or kangaroo dashing across.
Put to the test: a simulator helps rookie drivers and can sharpen the skills of experienced drivers.