Rock Valley College uses new simulator to train next generation of truck drivers

Local News

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO)- The rise of e-commerce means demand for experienced truckers is higher than ever. Experts say about 60,000 more drivers are needed nationwide.

One local school is working to fill that gap with some high-tech help. Rock Valley College has offered a truck driver training program for years, but a trucking simulator is a new addition. It was installed just this past summer at the Stenstrom Center.

RVC trucking student, Alex, is about halfway through his five-week commercial driver’s license course. He says the simulator is a great tool to get prepared for the job.

“You get in there and feel like you’re really in the truck. The technology is definitely advanced,” Alex said. “It’s far from a video game. It’s made to really help you get familiar with the truck and how it acts and behaves.”

The idea is to give students hands-on experience before they ever hit the road.

“Before we had that, we used to teach people how to double clutch and shift, all of which is new to them, and frankly it’s kind of hard on the truck because a lot of mistakes are made,” said acting program coordinator Dave Willis. “With the simulator, they make the same mistakes originally, but it doesn’t tear up the simulator because it’s designed for it. So by the time they get into the truck, they’ve developed a pretty good pattern for taking care of that kind of work.”

Trainees typically spend only a few days on the simulator- then it’s time for the real thing.

“All it’s designed to do is break the ice,” Willis said.

Four new students start truck driver training at RVC every two weeks. According to Willis, most classes have been completely filled over the past six months.

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