Saskatoon

'This can only improve safety for all of us': Semi-driving simulator now available in Sask.

Training for semi-truck drivers is now mandatory in Saskatchewan, but one company owner is taking things a step further.

Officials hope simulator will help drivers train and update skills in a stress-free environment

CBC reporter Jason Warick tries out a semi-driving video simulator in Saskatoon this week. The owner hopes to rent space on the machine to drivers in training, or to veterans hoping to update their skills. (Matt Garand/CBC)

Training for semi-truck drivers is now mandatory in Saskatchewan, but one company owner is taking things a step further.

Custom Courier President Stacey Kliewer is offering to rent time on his new $250,000 semi-truck simulator.

Simulators have been used to train airline pilots for years. Kliewer says it's time for the truck driving industry to do the same.

"If you want to learn to fly and land a 747, you don't put the pilot in a plane and say, 'Let's see what happens.' They put them in a simulator to teach them how to handle that situation," Kliewer said.

Following calls from the families of Humboldt Broncos crash victims, experts and drivers themselves, the government made semi driver training mandatory this spring. Kliewer welcomed the changes and said simulator training can help drivers even more.

Custom Courier President Stacey Kliewer hopes his new semi-driving video simulator will make the roads safer for everyone. (Matt Garand/CBC)

"For the public, this can only improve safety for all of us trying to get home to our families," he said.

The simulator looks similar to a driving video game you might see at an arcade, but the seat and wheel vibrate, tip and lurch proportionately to the situations such as gravel or ice.

Drivers can be tested on parking, reversing, dealing with unexpected blowouts, brake failures and driving in fog or rain.

Tester Wade Corriveau said the good thing about crashing or failing in the simulator is that nothing is damaged and no one gets hurt.

The simulator can also take drivers on busy urban freeways or through narrow Rocky Mountain passes, conditions they don't experience during a road test in Rosetown or Estevan, he said..

SGI vice-president Kwei Quaye said the simulator won't replace actual driver training on the roads. But it can be a valuable tool to practice.

"Technology like this that can help drivers hone their skills in environments without real-world adverse consequences is always a good thing," Quaye said.

Kliewer said he's in talks with companies and government agencies now, and hopes the simulator training will begin in the next few weeks.

About the Author

Jason Warick

Reporter

Jason Warick is a reporter with CBC Saskatoon.

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