Snowplow Simulator Training Evaluation

Snowplow drivers must operate $200,000 units of equipment in blinding snowstorms and demanding traffic conditions. Yet traditional training for new drivers, with limited funding and staff, may be only two or three storm shifts with a partner-trainer. For this level of responsibility, training needs to be enhanced, to improve driver safety and reduce risk. The Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) outsourced simulator training for snowplow operators in rural Arizona in late 2004. A mobile simulator classroom visited five ADOT districts: Globe, Flagstaff, Holbrook, Kingman, and Safford, to deliver a half-day introductory course with both classroom and simulator training segments. This Year One (2004-05 winter) trainee group included 149 snowplow drivers. In Winter Two (2005-06), more in-depth training was given on a dedicated driving simulator unit, purchased for ADOT’s Globe Maintenance District. All 61 of Globe’s snowplow drivers took two courses: situational awareness training in the fall, and then fuel management and shifting skills in the spring. All Year Two trainers were experienced ADOT snowplow operators from the Globe District. An interdisciplinary team from Arizona State University (ASU) evaluated the effectiveness of simulator-based training for snowplow drivers as a new dimension in ADOT’s winter maintenance training program. The primary focus was on driver response to simulator training, and the effectiveness of that training in terms of public safety and potential cost savings. Clear quantitative results on this small scale have been limited, but two years of experience with simulator-trained snowplow operators in Arizona has resulted in optimism about the potential of simulators as an integral part of a comprehensive winter maintenance and driver skill training program. Based on the Year Two results from Globe and new personnel training needs, ADOT procured two more simulators for Holbrook and Flagstaff Districts in mid-2006. A Working Group was formed of field trainers from the three simulator districts to refine and focus the training courses. A new third-year study will expand on this analysis, with a focus on results of training in proper gear shifting (a control-level skill) to improve fuel efficiency and to reduce repair costs. As the study proceeds, it will continue to evaluate the simulators’ effectiveness, providing quantitative documentation to reinforce the qualitative results and to define broader benefits of the driving simulator for heavy equipment operations.


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Print
  • Edition: Final Report
  • Features: Appendices; Figures; Photos; References; Tables;
  • Pagination: 140p

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01043620
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Report/Paper Numbers: FHWA-AZ-06-585
  • Contract Numbers: SPR-PL-1(67)-585; R0585 17P / JPA 05-010T
  • Created Date: Mar 6 2007 11:06AM