Effectiveness of simulator-based training for heavy vehicle operators: What do we know and what do we still need to know?
The use of simulation to train heavy vehicle operators has much potential. However, realising the potential efficiencies associated with simulation-based training can be a challenge for training providers. While some guidance exists on simulator selection, information is lacking about how best to incorporate simulation into a broader training program, including which skills to target and how much simulation to provide relative to other forms of practical training (i.e., range-based, and on-road). This paper presents the key outcomes of a literature review, which sought broadly to explore the effectiveness of simulation in training heavy vehicle operators. The review focussed on the research evidence pointing to a role for simulation-based training in critical technical (i.e., vehicle control) and non-technical (e.g., hazard perception) skill areas at the entry level, and in the principles of eco-driving at the post-licensing level. Regarding technical and non-technical skills, it was found that evidence of effectiveness has typically come from evaluations drawing on global performance measures (e.g., licence test scores) rather than on specific measures. Also, despite evidence of learning, there appears to be scant evidence on transfer of training to the real-world and on long-term skill retention. In the case of eco-driving, the review showed that there exists evidence of learning in the simulated environment, positive transfer of training to the real-world, and skill retention. However, any flow-on benefits of reduced fuel consumption to safety have yet to be explored objectively. The implications of these outcomes are discussed in terms of opportunities for the future.