UPM Forestal Oriental and the Technical University of Uruguay are developing a modern training programme to help new truck drivers avoid dangerous situations on the road.
The driver gets behind the wheel, starts the engine, puts the truck into gear and places his foot on the accelerator. As he drives on, the scenery flashes by. He can feel the bumps in the road through his seat.
The twist is that the truck is not actually moving along the road at all. The driver is sitting in a driving simulator acquired by UPM Forestal Oriental which is – in a joint effort with the Technical University of Uruguay (UTU) – aiming to improve road traffic safety in Uruguay.
“The simulator will come into use next year. It will be used all over Uruguay to train professional heavy vehicle drivers who are new to the job,” says Mauro Real de Azul, Harvesting and Logistics Manager, UPM Forestal Oriental.
Driving in less-than-ideal conditions
Real de Azul says that the simulator can be used to practise driving in less-than-ideal conditions, for example on dark, wet or slippery stretches or roads that are in poor condition.
The simulator is assembled in a freight container, which makes it easy to move between locations.
“In addition to improving road traffic safety, this project is also intended to spread information about potential career opportunities,” Real de Azul points out.
The driving simulator is part of UPM Forestal Oriental’s long term programme to prevent traffic accidents, improve drivers’ skills, increase awareness and promote responsible driving habits.
“We provide training for our employees and subcontractors all year round. In addition to the training, we also organise a Safe Driver Contest every year.”
Last year 800 drivers attended the driving courses offered by UPM Forestal Oriental. The company works closely with the local authorities and trade unions in Uruguay to improve road traffic safety.
Room for improvement
According to the World Health Organisation, Uruguay is the best country on the continent when it comes to road traffic safety. However, there is still room for improvement.
Uruguay has an annual road traffic fatality rate of 21.5 deaths per 100,000 people. By way of comparison, the fatality rate is less than 5 per 100,000 in Western Europe.
New driving simulator
- The driving simulator acquired by UPM Oriental Forestal resembles the cabin of a combined vehicle.
- Seen from the driver’s seat, the simulator appears to be a vehicle, complete with steering wheel, pedals, gear stick, instrument panel and more.
- Built-in screens create an authentic experience by giving the driver a three-dimensional view of the road. High performance software makes it possible to simulate a variety of different trucks and road scenarios.
- The simulator also includes a mirror system in order to practise reversing.
- The simulator is assembled in a container, ensuring that it can be easily moved between locations
- Funding is provided by the UPM Foundation, Fundación UPM, which is dedicated to carrying out different CSR projects in Uruguay. It supports projects related to education, entrepreneurship, employment, health and recreational activities.