UI Takes Driver Safety Training Program on the Road to Cargill

Friday, June 18, 2010

University of Iowa News Release

The National Advanced Driving Simulator (NADS), a research unit of the University of Iowa College of Engineering, has begun a driver safety training program that can be specifically tailored for the particular needs and challenges of each participating business.

NADS launched its customized driver safety program in January with Cargill’s Animal Nutrition business in Coralville, Iowa, and is on track to train approximately 130 Cargill employees over the next several months in safe driving practices.

Dawn Marshall, NADS program manager, said that the training program has been well received by Cargill employees who find themselves behind the wheel as part of their daily work, particularly field sales representatives. “Our quiet, Midwestern setting might appear to be one of the last places where one would find a state-of-the-art driver safety training program, but that’s exactly what we have -— and what attracted Cargill to collaborate with us,” said Marshall.

The program comprises one hour of in-class instruction accompanied by classroom-style discussion and a second hour of hands-on training in NADS’s interactive driving simulator. The simulator module developed for Cargill created common driving challenges found in the region, including difficult weather conditions, darkness, poor visibility, and scenarios in which other drivers fail to obey the rules of the road, such as making improper turns and failing to yield right-of-way.

“We have gotten very good feedback from our employees who’ve participated in the NADS training,” said Scot Harold, sales leader for Cargill Animal Nutrition’s Upper Midwest business. “The safety of our employees is of foremost importance in our company. While many Cargill employees are regularly on the road as part of their jobs, complacency can sometimes set in. This training helps wake us up to the potential hazards of everyday situations, giving hands-on practice under safe, simulated driving conditions and serving as a useful reminder to every participating employee about how they need to conduct themselves behind the wheel.”

Harold noted that Cargill Animal Nutrition bans the use of cell phones by all employees who are driving as one means of enhancing safety. He said that the NADS program complements other Cargill safety practices and is an attractive learning component in that it is easily portable for training other Cargill employees located in other parts of the country.

“While Cargill may have been the first to use this program, it won't be the last because NADS is currently in the process of inviting other businesses to explore how the driver safety training can help promote safety among their employees,” said Marshall.

NADS (http://www.nads-sc.uiowa.edu/), located at the University of Iowa Research Park, is the most sophisticated research-driving simulator in the world. Developed by NHTSA, it offers the world's highest fidelity real-time driving simulation experience. Cargill (http://www.cargill.com/) is an international producer and marketer of food, agricultural, financial and industrial products and services.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACTS: Gary Galluzzo, University News Services, 319-384-0009, gary-galluzzo@uiowa.edu; David Feider, Cargill, 952-742-6910, david_feider@cargill.com