FORT DODGE, Iowa — While it has not yet snowed in Fort Dodge, the city snowplow drivers are on the streets with the big plows practicing their skills. But the trucks are not actually rolling, it’s all a computer simulation.
A company called L3 Harris out of Utah has a unit working this week in the state of Iowa. A large trailer loaded with two computer-driven simulators is sitting in the parking lot at Public Works in Fort Dodge.
“This is snow our fighter series, this is a two hour training course that we do for a snowplow drivers, said C.J. Laffoon, a trainer with L3 Harris. “We do it with city, the DOT pretty much anybody that wants their drivers to be safe and have a safe environment to get practice and training in before the snow plow season hits.”
The lessons are given to four drivers at a time. With two simulators, two drivers take turns. One lesson asked the driver to count ambulances they see during the simulation. Both the driver, and watcher are asked to count. In all cases the person watching was also counting. The driver always saw less ambulances, than did the observer. That’s due to the concentration of watching the road, and checking mirrors every few seconds.
“Extremely beneficial, I mean they can get the feel, they get reminder of the safety you know nuances of of driving a plow truck.” said Brett Daniel, who is Fort Dodge Public Works Director. “I figure these guys are out when times we’re telling people to stay home, they’re on ice they got to anticipate that they may not be able to stop in time.
“You can’t say that you’re the best driver out there or a perfect driver you can always better yourselves and doing safety courses like this,” said Laffoon.
“Any time we can get valuable training where we’re not have to actually put our trucks out there, waste of fuel, wear and tear on them,” said Daniel.