Truck driver training app helps prevent food supply shortage
|Brittany Hainzinger in Apps Tuesday, April 28, 2020|
The supply chain problems caused by COVID-19 are apparent in American grocery stores. A contributing factor is a shortage of truck drivers, and to help overcome this issue, Advanced Training Systems is offering a new training app at no charge to the entire commercial driver training community.
While the U.S. is still producing plenty of food and other goods, the process of delivering such supplies to consumers has been heavily affected by the coronavirus crisis. Experts warn that labor problems (particularly with the growing shortage of truck drivers) could pose a serious threat to the food supply chain. "We need to train more drivers as quickly as possible," says John Kearney, CEO of Advanced Training Systems (ATS)—a leading designer and manufacturer of virtual simulators for driver training and other applications.
For some years, Kearney notes, there has been a national shortage of truckers, particularly for interstate long-haul drivers of whom the agricultural industries depend upon. But over the recent months following the coronavirus outbreak, the situation has only worsened. To help expedite a solution of the shortage, for the next 90 days ATS will provide its Pre-Trip Training and Evaluation Software App at no charge—not only to its simulator customers but to the entire national community of commercial driver training institutions as well.
Before taking their place in the transportation workforce, Kearney explains that prospective new drivers must first take and pass a driving test in order to obtain a commercial driver's license (CDL). While specifics of this process somewhat vary from state to state, the driver test generally consists of three components: the pre-trip inspection checklist, basic control skills exam, and a road skills test. Of these, Kearney says the most complex in terms of detailed knowledge requirement is the pre-trip inspection checklist, in which the prospective new driver must evaluate the condition and roadworthiness of the rig's engine compartment, driver door fuel area, coupling area, trailer, light, cab, and brakes. The engine compartment inspection alone covers 28 different items.
The pre-trip inspection checklist is traditionally taught in a classroom followed by a closely gathered group around the truck—an approach that is not possible at the moment due to the pandemic. In response, ATS launched the CDL Pre-Trip Inspection App, which can be delivered to students' smartphones or tablets and thus enables them to study from anywhere. The challenges presented by COVID-19 led ATS to make the decision to provide the app for free over the next 90 days to the company's own simulator customers as well as the Commercial Vehicle Training Association (CVTA—the largest association representing commercial truck driver training institutions) and the National Association of Publicly Funded Truck Driving Schools (NAPFTDS—the national association for community colleges and other publicly funded programs).
"There is a significant startup cost associated with new applications, but we feel it is critical at this time in history to ensure its widespread availability. This will enable students to study at their own pace in solitary locations, online, and safe from the spread of the virus—and give them the knowledge needed to pass the CDL exam and become a thoroughly trained and safety-conscious driver," Kearney says.