Fleets and schools involved in testing a unique new driver training system say it promises to provide more effective, quantifiable driver training and has enormous potential for the industry.
TREAD-1, a computer-based system developed by Instructional Technologies Inc. (ITI) of Vancouver, Wash., will allow student drivers and existing drivers to learn trucking fundamentals at their own pace and provide evidence that the driver has completed a lesson. The system will be officially launched later this month.
The 32 one-hour lessons offered initially are based on the current curriculum approved by the Professional Truck Driver Training Institute and make extensive use of video and high-quality graphics and animation.
ITI acts as an Application Service Provider (ASP), installing computer terminals on location at no cost and delivering lessons via a private high-speed, secure Internet connection, allowing fleets and schools to pay only for what they use.

“We spent a year talking to fleets before we got started on this and we found that most fleets didn’t want to buy computers or CDs to do the training,” says ITI president Jim Voorhees. “That’s how we came up with the idea of providing the hardware and delivering the software remotely.”
A key benefit of this system is the ability to update information in lessons quickly and simultaneously deliver it to all participants in the system. That promises to provide fleets with the most up-to-date training information at all times.
Fleets involved in the testing phase, including U.S. Xpress, Watkins-Shepard Trucking, North American Van Lines, and Frito-Lay, also see potential cost savings through reduced liability. “Because the student can only finish the lesson with 100% mastery, we know the student’s paying attention and actually learning,” says ITI Chief Operating Officer Mike McCauley.
Neil Gearheart, Frito-Lay’s Western Div. safety manager, says that makes it “good, hard documentable material. It can’t be challenged in court. You have some hard proof that you have made a diligent effort to train someone. It gives a company a level of confidence and puts the burden on the plaintiff.”
ITI went to great lengths to make the training material as accurate and as real as possible. Real-life drivers are used in the video sequences to explain concepts and demonstrate driving practices. The material was also submitted to fleets for close scrutiny.“We’ve received over 4,500 individual responses to our lessons from our beta test customers,” says Bruce Weiss, ITI manager of strategic development. “We re-shoot, we re-edit, we do whatever it takes to make the lessons bullet-proof.”
Weiss says the company plans to follow up the initial 32 basic lessons with more advanced training materials and would also consider doing customized lessons for larger fleets.
For more information on ITI and TREAD-1, look for the article in the November issue of Heavy Duty Trucking magazine.