Truckies get virtual chance to gauge driving skills

"I was actually quite surprised at how real it felt"

BLANTON SMITH
Last updated 05:00 29/05/2014
truck simulator
Fairfax NZ
VIRTUAL RIG: Truck driver Jimmy Burns tests his skills in a driving simulator at Symons Transport yesterday.

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Taranaki truckers' driving habits were put to the test yesterday using a virtual rig.

Everything, from whether or not they "made it click" to fuel efficiency, was recorded using a simulator.

"I was actually quite surprised at how real it felt," Jimmy Burns said.

"You could really feel the load in the trailer as you rounded the corner and braked."

Burns, who has been driving trucks for 12 years, was one of several Symons Transport drivers who were tested as part of a health and safety initiative.

Transport manager Murray Symons said the testing was being used to upskill the company's drivers.

The simulation training, which is a first for New Plymouth, was run by Fleetsafe New Zealand.

"Stats coming out are saying that about 33 per cent of workplace deaths are motor vehicle related," spokesman Charles Dawson said.

"In this industry drivers are always on the road."

Instructor Elton Goonan said drivers all used the same circuit and given a score out of 100.

"We can check everything from whether they put on their seatbelt, to their speed and space management," he said.

When the test is done we get a computer printout that highlights what was done well and what needed improvement.

"We can then let managers know how their fleet is doing as a whole and how individual drivers have done."

Symons said the company was not trying to rank its drivers, but rather help them develop.

However, there was a prize for the best performers.

"A few of the guys who get the best scores will be getting tickets to the box for the Chiefs game," Symons said.

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