“You are going to wreck, you can’t help it,” said Lori Sandusky, dispatcher at Shields Asphalt Paving.

For the first year ever the company’s 50+ CDL drivers are taking a driving simulation course at Rosedale Technical College in Allegheny County.

Company owner Tim Shields said he sought out the program because, “I believe we need to be proactive, not reactive, when it comes to safety.”

The drivers go into the course believing they are about to practice standard, safe driving skills.

Then they wreck.

“I had the simulator programmed so that they don’t have a choice,” said Sandusky, who took similar training earlier while employed by a different company.

Sandusky said the purpose of the planned, unexpected collision is to measure the time, speed and distance it takes for the driver to stop.

“The drivers don’t like the classroom setting as much as this,” Sandusky said. “The simulator is more hands-on so they learn a lot more than they could just sitting in a classroom. They also have a little fun.” Sandusky, who hires and manages the company’s CDL drivers, says they work in two types of trucks. The crew guys man water trucks, tack trucks, crew trucks, maintenance trucks, fuel trucks, and tandem trucks. The other employees drive traditional tri-axles, tractors and lowboys.

These men range from 21 to 72 years old, and have no less than 2 years experience and sometimes have decades worth.

“Some of my drivers have a lifetime worth of experience, and all of them come back saying they have learned something from this program,” Sandusky said.

While Rosedale Tech has worked with many companies on customized industry training throughout its program offerings, this the first time the school has utilized the truck driving simulator in an industry training program.

“Overall, we’ve been quite impressed with the drivers who came to us from Shields for training, particularly with the way these guys can back up the trucks,” said Vaughan Greil, Lead CDL Instructor at Rosedale Tech. “They’ve all been very appreciative of the training and the lessons learned while at Rosedale Tech.”

After the simulator training, the employees had a chance to walk through Rosedale’s school with the instructors and also were re-trained on Pre-trips and Post-trips (everything they should be checking before leaving the yard, and when they get back to the yard) daily.

Sandusky said, “With the DOT laws, rules and regulations changing constant, one can never be too safe! There are constant DOT stops and checkpoints along the road, if my drivers are doing correct pre-trips and post-trips, we should be able to make it through the stop with no warnings or fines, because we have done our job well to start. “

At the conclusion of the course, the company is given an outline describing the pros and cons of each driver’s experience.

“I have been looking at their scores, and my guys are doing pretty well,” Sandusky said.