Thanks to the support of industry suppliers and the efforts of the Texas Motor Truck Assn. (TM TA), a mobile classroom with a full-motion driver simulator is on the road this year to help fleets around the country provide high-tech driver training and educate the public about trucks and the way their drivers perform their job.

The mobile classroom is contained within a 53-ft trailer designed specifically to support computer-based training, which is hauled by a tractor provided courtesy of Volvo Trucks North America.

TMTA reports it has partnered with International Technologies Inc. to provide TREAD-1 computer-based training in the classroom.

The trailer interior can be set up for two quite different groups. In classroom configuration, it's used for driver training including access to the full-motion simulator.

Set up in “exhibit mode” it becomes a highly interactive walk-through exhibit that even lets visitors climb into the simulator to “see what it is like to share the road with a truck.”

Thanks to the simulator and other exhibits, motorists can be educated on sharing the road with trucks, including recognizing their blind spots, stopping times, turning capabilities, etc. by actually climbing behind the wheel in an operational truck cab.

The simulation unit itself consists of a full-size truck cab mounted on a full-motion base that TMTA says makes the simulator unique in the world. “The full-motion base of the simulator is what makes the unit the only one of its kind.”

With a touch of a button, the simulator can change the weather, fail the brakes, or take control of other vehicles, notes TMTA. Many types of tractor-trailer configurations can be simulated and most engine and transmissions can be simulated by way of more than 30 separate training scenarios.

Currently underwriting a two-year sponsorship of TMTA's mobile classroom is ChevronTexaco Global Lubricants (CTGL) via its Delo brand of heavy-duty lubricants. The company notes this sponsorship is part of its ongoing effort to support programs that promote both on and off-highway safety.

“We understand that one of the primary ways for fleets to reduce their costs is by minimizing the risk of accidents,” points out Kurt Schulte, CTGL commercial automotive specialist.

“Allowing drivers to experience hazardous situations in the simulator gives them the skills and confidence to safely handle these situations on the open road,” he continues. “For fleets, safer drivers mean ensuring public safety, reducing insurance costs and having more vehicles on the road to transport goods. The TMTA program is one we proudly stand behind.”

“ChevronTexaco Global Lubricant's support of our program will enable TMTA to educate an even greater number of drivers, helping to make our highways a safer place,” adds Bill Webb, TMTA president & CEO. “Their support is something we sincerely appreciate.”

Truck fleets that have already scheduled time with the mobile classroom include many of the industry's top names, including fleets well-known for their on-the-road safety prowess. Here are just a few of these over two dozen firm to illustrate the kind of company being kept: Dart Transit, Federal Express, Frito Lay, Halliburton, Praxair and Ryder.

For more information on the TMTA mobile classroom and driver simulator, including a look at some full-color pictures of the inside and outside of the impressive rig, or to inquire about scheduling it for on-site training in the continental U.S., go to www.tmta.com.