ITD using snow plow simulator to train drivers, despite dry conditions


Snow is nothing new to Treasure Valley, but thanks to a relatively dry December, the Idaho Transporation Department is turning to technology to prepare for the snow.

"This is a full unit, it has a full engine on the front so it can travel anywhere, it doesn't need to be plugged in, it's a self contained unit," says Chris Cunningham, Equiptment Trainer with ITD.

And inside a 6x12 ft trailer is where all of the training takes place.

This snowplow simulation machine owned by the Idaho Transportation Department and it cost about $100,000.

It's giving thousands of employees around the state of Idaho the chance to get right inside the drivers seat regardless of conditions outside, and try out thousands of simulations.

Getting them right behind the wheel.

Cunningham says the simulator keeps trainees hands full regardless of the temperature outside.

"We can do snow, ice, even simulate fatigue, it can be day or night, and we can really customize to how we want to train," Cunningham says.

Creating real world scenario's drivers may encounter while on the road.

And also preparing drivers for safety and responsibility of driving a 2 ton plow.

"You have your wing over here on the side and that adds an extra five feet to your vehicle you have to be aware of," Cunningham says. "Your front plow is 12 feet wide to plow the whole lane and that changes your entire turning radius."

So CBS 2's own Sarah Jacobsen decided to give it her best shot, and get behind the wheel.

The simulation is harder than it looks, taking into account your air brakes, plow position, wing position, sand, clutch...and that's just inside your own cab!

After the simulation is finished, Cunningham tells CBS 2 News all of the information goes to this computer, and you can watch your driving with a 360 view.

"It will show us if they were speeding, if they hit something, you will get an error if the seat-belt isn't fastened," Cunningham says.

While this training isn't used to evaluate drivers, it does keep their skills sharp year round.

close video ad
Unmutetoggle ad audio on off