Two people stand in front of a chair facing several screens with Virage Simulation on it.

Humber College is using a new simulator to help its learners work towards earning their tractor trailer licence.  

James Pattison is manager of Humber’s Transportation Training Centre that offers the Commercial Driver Training Class G to AZ Tractor Trailer course where those enrolled learn how to drive a tractor trailer and earn their Ontario AZ licence.  

The Centre has a fleet of four tractor trailers that it uses to train learners. However, back in August, they acquired a Virage truck simulator that they’ve been using to enhance the educational experience for the learners.

“The value we see in the simulator is to be able to provide our learners with more opportunities for training in a controlled environment,” said Pattison.

Pattison said the simulator doesn’t mean learners spend less time in the vehicles now – that remains the same. The simulator allows them to work on important skills, such as backing up or shifting, in the virtual realm.

Another bonus to the simulator is that it allows people to experience what it’s like to be a transport truck driver before enrolling. Pattison said on a few occasions learners who were unsure if they actually wanted to take the course tried the simulator first and then decided to enrol.

“We’ve heard from our learners and our instructors have seen the benefits with our learners – the progress they’ve been making while using it is apparent,” said Pattison.

Lauri Anderson, a commercial driver trainer with the Centre, said the simulator also allows the learners to experience different weather driving conditions such as snow, sleet or rain. Anderson said it’s important for those learning how to drive a tractor trailer to get to experience those different conditions.

The simulator can run different scenarios for the learner. For example, one involved showing visually on the screen the stopping distance for the transport truck and how that changed, either becoming longer or shorter, based on the road conditions.

Another showed the vehicle’s blind spots as a virtual person walked around the outside of the vehicle. Anderson uses this scenario to impress upon her students the importance of being aware of the vehicle’s blind spots for the safety of other drivers and pedestrians.

The Centre has a new intake of learners each month. Pattison said they have one teacher per student when they’re in the vehicles learning and there’s a maximum of 15 students in the classroom.

It runs seven days a week. The Centre also offers training for those who wish to become driving school instructors.

Pattison noted trucking offers the opportunity for stable employment with good pay, a lifestyle that offers a flexible work schedule and it can lead to a variety of careers in the industry including fleet manager, driver trainer, dispatcher, maintenance manager and many more.

Find out more about the Centre by visiting its website.