The simulator scenarios cover basic driver training, evaluation and advanced training under different road, traffic and weather conditions. Lessons and objective evaluations can be performed with or without an instructor. Scenario design is based on proven pedagogical principles. Special attention is given to shifting, maneuvering in confined areas and advanced training such as energy efficient driving (ecodrive) and hazard perception.
The instructor guide describes the content and main teaching points of each scenario, including the objectives, principle actions within the scenario, specially programmed simulator features and evaluation criteria. This detailed information is automatically displayed on the operator station when a scenario is selected.
The scenarios in the VS600M library are designed to achieve training goals through simple and complex interactions with other road users, each programmed to occur at the proper time or distance from the learner driver. The careful scripting of these traffic events allows instructors to focus their attention on observing and analyzing the learners’ driving behavior and correctly distinguishing between errors of perception (identification of hazards) and response (prediction, decision and execution). These scenarios facilitate corrective feedback that is both accurate and meaningful to the learner.
Changing gears….. The Golden Shifter™ Training Program
The Golden Shifter™ program consists of four interlinked modules designed to allow learners to achieve competence in shifting gears. Shifting tasks are segmented and learners practice each task in increasing order of complexity while receiving continuous feedback on their performance.
The Golden Shifter™ program was developed in cooperation with the Centre de Formation en Transport de Charlesbourg (CFTC) where six VS600M simulators are currently in use. To date, learners and trainers have found the Golden Shifter™ experience to be the most engaging, stimulating and simple way to learn the complex task of shifting. The preliminary results at the CFTC have been so positive that the Golden Shifter™ diploma has become a prerequisite to driving the real truck.
The Golden Shifter™ is a competency-based program. Points are granted for each successful maneuver while a faulty maneuver generates instantaneous feedback to the driver and reduces the amount of accumulated points. The learner has to accumulate a predetermined score to obtain a certificate and progress to the next step.
Backing-up….. The Golden Mirrors™ Training Program
The Golden Mirrors™ learning program for backing-up maneuvers was developed with the same pedagogical philosophy and methods as the Golden Mirrors™ Program. The competency-based Golden Mirrors™ program consists of five scenarios that progress from simple straight-line backing with a tractor only to a comprehensive exercise during which the driver has to park the trailer from a 90 degree or 45 degree approach.
Maneuvering in the city….. The Golden Steering™ Training Program
The learner is first guided through the different phases of a turn, with a focus on reaching the turn at the proper speed, the correct gear ratio in order to have full control of the vehicle during the turn. The Golden Steering™ learning program consists of four scenarios which include a range of different configurations of left and right turns followed by a full evaluation.
Feedback is automatically provided to the driver as he progresses through the scenarios. For the final scenario, the driver is evaluated through a series of intersections. All critical elements are evaluated, i.e. approach speed, gear ratio, smoothness of the maneuver, lane choice and position of the tractor and the trailer. Feedback is also provided on the quality of shifting.
Ecodriving is a new set of driving skills designed to systematically reduce the financial costs and environmental damage of driving. Travel time is not increased and may even be decreased with ecodriving techniques. Ecodriving is also associated with improved road safety. There is an apparent lack of ecodriving skills among professional drivers. Research indicates a difference of up to 35% in fuel efficiency between the best and worst drivers in an average fleet. Research also indicates that driver fuel efficiency improves in the range of 5% to 20% following training. With rising fuel costs, the potential return on investment for a fleet-wide ecodrive training program is definitely worth considering.
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The Virage Simulation Approach to Ecodriving
The Quebec government energy efficiency agency (AEEQ) mandated Virage Simulation to develop an ecodriving training program for professional drivers of all types of vehicles. We reviewed the existing approaches and decided to focus on two basic questions: What causes a vehicle to consume fuel? What can the driver do to reduce it?
We programmed a series of learning scenarios to help drivers understand the physical forces that cause a vehicle to consume fuel: rolling and aerodynamic resistance, inertia, braking and gravity. As the learner drives, each physical force acting on his vehicle is represented graphically on the front display. The driver receives immediate feedback on the relationship between these physical forces and his own actions on the gas and brake pedals. This direct, experiential learning bridges the gap between classroom or on-line theory and on-road practice and helps drivers understand the whys and hows of fuel efficient, ecodriving habits. In 2010, the Quebec government automobile insurance corporation (the SAAQ) approved our ecodriving program for use in the new mandatory driver education program for novice drivers.
The ecodriving scenarios are designed for maximum flexibility of use and may be delivered in multiple formats ranging from one-day theory and practice courses for groups of four, to half-day programmes, to one-hour lessons in specific topics such as how to manage accelerations. A 20- minute “Express” training for up to ten participants at a time is also available and can be used as an introduction to an ecodrive competition where each participant measures their ecodriving score against the rest of the group. The 20-minute Express training activity is ideal for raising employee awareness of fuel efficient driving skills within a business enterprise.
Ecodriving scenarios have also been used with great effect in five-minute segments at public demonstrations with results presented at the end of each drive that are compared to the average and best scores of the day.