Working in a specialised role means you need specialised knowledge. Heavy vehicle drivers follow the same safe driving practices as everyone else, but they have an added level of complexity and responsibility when they’re behind the wheel. There are more factors at play, including the load they’re carrying, the mass of their vehicle and required stopping distance, and the momentum they can gain when travelling down an incline.
So it’s not enough to just know how to drive safely, heavy vehicle drivers need to understand how external forces can work upon their vehicle, and how to take preventative steps to avoid a situation that could result in an incident. There’s a lot of pressure on these drivers not to fail.
One of the most effective ways to avoid an incident is to witness one or more in a safe, online environment. There are a number of advantages to incident recreations. They allow drivers to observe what is happening from different vantage points, including behind the wheel, from a bird’s eye view, and to see how the vehicle as a whole is behaving. They also provide an environment free from consequence. You can watch a digital tanker roll without any danger.
Incident recreations can also be interactive so that users are required to make decisions at key points. This allows them to see the outcome of their actions and to fail safely. Witnessing how an incident plays out takes learners beyond theoretical learning and allows them to enhance their understanding of the factors involved in the lead up to an incident.
Users who are allowed to make mistakes—both accidentally and intentionally—in a controlled environment without real world consequences, can learn from their actions and develop strategies to avoid an incident. This allows them to establish these skills now so they’re prepared when they get behind the wheel. It also gives drivers permission to experiment and find out what happens if they purposefully make a wrong choice.
To take this a step further, virtual reality can be used to create memories of how to best respond in a given situation. Research has shown that our brains encode and organise memories according to the amount of detail and verisimilitude in an experience. That means the memories with the most detail are the easiest to recall. Experiences in VR often use lifelike 3D models of vehicles and environments, which look and feel close to reality, so our brains treat them in a similar way to real memories.
Drivers who participate in VR incident training simulations are more likely to remember their experiences as if they really occurred, as well as the associated lessons they’ve learnt. This means it will be easier for them to recall the necessary skills they require when they’re in a real world environment so that they can respond appropriately.
Don’t wait for an incident to happen. Give your drivers the best possible chance of avoiding one by allowing them to experience what can happen in a safe space. If they’re going to fail, better to let them do it in a digital environment.