The simulator has two stations complete with steering wheels, gear shifts, and brake and gas pedals that respond like a fire engine, a squad car, or a truck. Instructors can program the machine’s transmission, engine, and axle so they behave exactly like the vehicle that the student will drive on the job. “The system is so realistic that if you miss the gear on the stick shift setting, it rattles and shakes just like a real truck,” says Shaffer, adding that the simulator uses three plasma screens to give drivers a “view” out the windows and mirrors of a car or truck. In addition, the simulator comes with about 30 stock scenarios that instructors can use or manipulate. Instructors can change them to mimic road or weather conditions, for instance, to make the driving situation more challenging. Instructors also can build scenarios that reflect the driving challenges their students will face. “It’s pretty amazing what you can do,” says Shaffer. “Simulators allow us to do things you cannot do safely on the street, such as as having a semi hit a patch of black ice or having a child run in front of a delivery truck.”
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