When the SUV pulled out unexpectedly into the roadway, TAPS Public Transit bus driver Lou Stevens had to take quick evasive action to keep from hitting the vehicle. The first three times it happened, the 15-passenger transit bus plowed into the SUV, causing a major accident with injuries.
In fact, no passengers or vehicles were harmed during the two-hour training session. Everything described happened in a virtual world: all part of a sophisticated, hi-tech simulation, used to prepare public transit drivers for the road.
TAPS Public Transit this week installed a state-of-the-art driving simulator designed to prepare drivers to avoid dangerous situations and develop avoidance skills. The bus simulator —connected to large projection screens and a powerful matrix of computer-driven hydraulics— is an exact replica of the type of passenger vehicle that makes up the majority of the fleet at the regional transit agency.
Josh Walker, Director of Security, Safety and IT at TAPS is the project manager for the simulator training facility. “There is no better investment in safety than a well trained driver. The bus simulator allows a driver to duplicate much of the real experience of hazardous driving situations,” said Walker.
The driving simulator is one part of an expanded regional training facility at the transit agency’s Sherman, Texas headquarters.
“We expect to have everything tuned and tweaked to specification within a few days, then we can begin to schedule training sessions that will offer real visual, aural and environment feedback that will feel real,” said Walker.