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New Simulator Allows CDL Program Students to Get Driving Experience in the Classroom

Eau Claire High School CDL SimulatorWhen teens are learning how to drive, it can be a little scary at first. It can be even more intimidating when they’re learning how to drive a commercial truck. But a new tool in Richland One’s commercial driver’s license (CDL) program at Eau Claire High School is helping students shake off their nerves and receive guidance without leaving the classroom.

The CDL program at Eau Claire is one of only six high school CDL training programs in the United States. The program began in August 2018 in partnership between Richland One and the South Carolina Trucking Association.

Richland One purchased an L3Harris TranSim™ Truck Driving Simulator for the program in January 2023. The simulator allows students to experience what it’s like to drive a fully loaded truck. Instructor Augustin Wigfall says the new simulator gives students an advantage over others wanting to be commercial drivers.

“The simulator gives students a foundation that will help them when they’re ready to drive a truck,” said Wigfall. “With the help of this equipment, a student can get their CDL and a job as young as 18 years old.”

Wigfall uses the simulator to tie in certain parts of his curriculum. He says they’ll be able to see how the information they receive through classroom instruction and hands-on experience connect.

The new simulator has built-in scenarios and it allows Wigfall to create scenarios. It also has a grading system that allows students to receive feedback on the spot. They can be graded on things such as their start-up procedure and their speed. 

“I’m able to assess the students’ work and show them any areas of concern that we can go back and work on. I’ll then give them a final assessment, seeing if they made those adjustments,” said Wigfall.

Senior Daniel Diaz is a student in the CDL program and one of the first to use the simulator. He says he was nervous about using it at first.

Eau Claire High School CDL Simulator

“My legs were shaking,” he said. “I didn’t want to go over the speed limit because I was worried about making a mistake, but it was a fun experience.”

Daniel went through two different simulations during his first time on the machine. He drove on the highway during his first simulation, making sure he maintained his speed and kept his distance. Daniel’s second simulation included pointing out any hazards he saw on the road, including accidents and people crossing the street. He passed both simulations.

“I see myself doing this in the future,” Daniel said. “This class is a great experience and a fun environment.”

Wigfall says he’s looking to do more to provide students with cutting-edge technology inside the classroom, including a virtual reality system that will allow students to do pre-trip inspections. He says technology like the new simulator helps students understand what to do before they start driving for real.

For more information about the Richland One Commercial Driver’s License Program, contact Eau Claire High School at (803) 735-7600.