One at a time, Crothersville High School juniors and seniors buckled into a semitrailer seat, placed their hands on the wheel, shifted the gear to drive and slowly accelerated from an exit ramp to a three-lane roadway.
Just minutes after reaching the speed limit, a box appears in the road.
Despite trying to swerve to miss it, the truck crashes into the box.
The driver is able to recover and continue down the road, where other boxes pop up.
It’s meant for the driver to hit the first box. What’s important is how they react from that point when the other boxes appear.
In this case, it’s an electronic simulator exercise provided by Marvin Johnson and Associates Inc. of Columbus, which specializes in truck insurance.
The purpose is to give drivers a feel for how a semitrailer handles in different environments and situations.
“I think a lot of the kids, it didn’t jive with them until they hit something. That’s when they are like, ‘OK,'” said Wayne Andrews, safety officer for Marvin Johnson and Associates.
“I’m like, ‘Imagine that box was a family of five,'” he said. “There are some scenarios that you cannot recover from. Are you going to seriously hold your speed high if you just hit a box on the road? We want you to react the way you would normally react. It’s about having those moments in a simulator that give you an opportunity to train your mind on how to react the next time.”
Another part of the simulator set up at Wischmeier Trucking in Tampico put the students behind the wheel of a semitrailer on a two-lane road while it’s raining, storming or foggy. They also faced different obstacles, such as a deer running across the road and farm machinery off the side of the road, and different scenarios, including a tire blowout.
“I thought that initially, it was just kind of fun, like a game,” Andrews said. “But then they started realizing the value in the training in this environment as opposed to learning the hard way out on the road.”
Then in a garage at Wischmeier Trucking, the students learned about blind spots from Jerry Ogle, manager of safety and loss control for Marvin Johnson and Associates.
They learned how to safely get into the cab of a semitrailer, sit in the driver’s seat and check the mirrors for blind spots.
Read the full story in Tuesday’s Tribune and online at tribtown.com.