With the help of technology, Lord Fairfax Community College has a new way to prepare truck drivers for the road.
James Robinson says when he became a truck driver in 1993, things were much different than they are now.
“Totally different all the way up to the pre-trip that the DMV requires you to do, we weren’t required to do all that. Even the backing maneuvers they require, I didn’t have to do that,” Robinson said.
One of the big changes in the industry is the training.
Now Robinson is a CDS/CDL instructor at the community college. A $50,000 truck simulator with a seat facing three large screens plays a vital role in course. Students get the hands on experience of truck driving with the push of a button.
“Realizing that you now have a long trailer on the back of you and that you have to swing wide to make the turns and mainly just to understand how to shift how to double clutch, just how to get the truck down the road safely.” Robinson said.
And if you aren’t driving safely, the simulator will be sure to let you know.
“When you hit something, it’s going to tell you to stop right there. We had a class where a person hit the guardrail and it stopped them, it told them that you it the guard rail and had to start over,” Jamie Armel, a student, said.
Robinson says it is great that students get to practice on the simulator, because being on the roads is less forgiving.
“If you turn too sharp, you’ll take down a sign, turn to sharp you’ll hit a car. On the simulator it will stop you and say you have crashed. Out on the road it’s not going to stop you,” Robinson said.
The simulator allows students to drive on different roads, states and settings. Armel is in his second week of the four week course, and says he’s excited to take what he’s learning and start his career on the road.
“I love to travel, and why not to get paid to do it and love what you’re doing at the same time,” Armel said.
The classes have been full since the school started offering the course, and Robinson says it is a good thing. With more items being shipped, the demand for truck drivers is at an all time high.
“Get your CDL — there are truck companies waiting for you to graduate,” Frank Turner of Harrisonburg said.
The school also provides students with a job placement advisor who helps them lock down a job after obtaining their CDL.