Driving simulators prepare troops for real thing
March 19, 2010
CAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait - Troops driving commercial vehicles between bases in Kuwait are driving on the world's most dangerous highways according to the Traffic National Strategy, but there's a program here to help combat gruesome road conditions.
Area Support Group-Kuwait now offers Army safe driver simulators to all troops who sign up for the training. Driving instructor Malcom McCalmon says driving simulators may give troops a way to combat the threats of driving before anyone actually gets hurt.
The simulators are advanced interactive instruction tools with actual vehicle controls and realistic traffic scenarios for operating a multitude of vehicles. The simulators include first responder vehicles, motorcycles and a drunk driving simulator - all in various scenarios.
"What we simulate is a lifelike experience," McCalmon says to troops when guiding them through sessions.
The retired veteran pilot has worked with flight simulators and vouches for the success of simulated training.
"They work," McCalmon said. "We've actually taken guys straight from the simulators to actual planes, and they can fly, supervised, of course."
The intensive driving simulations require students to evaluate and address traffic hazards. Students learn to develop and apply risk management and crash avoidance using the acronym SEE - search, evaluate, execute.
Specialist Kenneth Sannerty, motor transport operator, 653rd Regional Support Group, recently attended the drivers training and said it was especially helpful because the majority of his days are spent in a vehicle.
"If we're not doing missions, we're out doing route recons," Sannerty said. "The simulators really remind you of all the unexpected stuff that can happen."
Though some may not ever expect to have an interest in something like driving a motorcycle, McCalmon recommends the simulator to enhance a driver's perception of all vehicles on the road - same goes for the drunken driver simulator.
"This is a great opportunity to develop skills and do things you can't normally do on the street," McCalmon said. "Here, no one gets hurt, and no equipment gets damaged.
"Some people don't see certain things on the road because they are not aware. It's a good chance to gain perspective. (Non-motorcycle riders) might even develop an appreciation for what it takes."
The simulators at Camp Arifjan are geared toward commercially used vehicles; however, Camp Buehring has simulators for combat vehicles in combat scenarios.
McCalmon said individuals and units are welcome to schedule appointments for training.