Simulator gives truck drivers a test on the roads before stepping behind the wheel

Step behind the simulator at Shelly Truck Driving School in York and you'll find out fast how good your driving skills really are.

The simulator gives drivers the feel of a big rig before they hit the road by teaching students how to shift gears and sight lines. The machine also provides feedback to students as they drive under all weather conditions. An important tool, instructors use to prepare truck drivers for all conditions, especially the winter months ahead.

A new analysis by MoneyGeek has ranked Pennsylvania as the second most dangerous state for winter driving. The only state worse than Pennsylvania in terms of dangerous winter driving, per MoneyGeek, is Michigan.

Drivers saw firsthand how treacherous roads can become during an unexpected snowfall Sunday.

"It was between 6 and 10 in the morning we took 15 crashes that day, said Pennsylvania State Police Trooper Sean Simmers. Simmers said of that 15, 14 crashes happened on an interstate. "It actually happens every winter and people just need to slow down and drive a little carefully," Simmers added.

Master instructor Bob Schoener at Shelly Truck Driving School in York showed FOX43 how easy it is to lose control on the road, especially behind the wheel of a tractor trailer. He reminds everyone to not follow vehicles too closely, watch the speedometer and to pay attention closely on the road.

"You see the white-knuckled people that are driving and they are the ones you have to watch out for when you try to pass them," Schoender said. "That's when an accident can happen."

One tip he suggests for drivers is to look ahead on the roadway to anticipate problems that may be arising in front of their vehicle.

"Most people won't. They'll just sit there and look down at the front like here and then when you do that you'll start doing this," he said as he rattled the wheel back and forth.

PennDOT reminds drivers ahead of the winter season that they can monitor newly-plowed roads in real time with the online tracking system

Meantime, the Center for Traffic Safety tells drivers to make sure they are prepared before the bad weather strikes. That includes checking advisories ahead of time, checking their wipers and tires and leaving with a full tank of gas. They also remind everyone to pack a blanket, ice scraper and shovel in their vehicles.

"Make sure you're comfortable driving in winter conditions. If you don't have to go out, don't. Be prepared. Look at the advisories," said Missy Sweitzer, traffic safety specialist for the Center for Traffic Safety.

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