News and stories by Steve Mentzer

Steve Mentzer

Long-time industry veteran specializing in driver safety and training

Steve Mentzer has helped pioneer the use of simulators to promote the training and development of professional bus operators.

Add 'Cheese' to Ensure Safe Bus Operations

Add 'Cheese' to Ensure Safe Bus Operations

December 27, 2017

I suspect you may be wondering what cheese has to do with safety? The connection is not so obvious. At least it wasn’t for me, until Steven Dallman of the Transportation Safety Institute introduced me to the work of Dr. James Reason and his Swiss Cheese Model of system failure.

'Practical Drift' is Bus Safety's Silent Adversary

'Practical Drift' is Bus Safety's Silent Adversary

August 16, 2017

Each year people are injured or killed in incidents where following a standard operating procedure (SOP) or using the available safety equipment could have prevented the injury or saved their life. Unfortunately, we are all prone toward a tendency to gradually drift away from the correct or proper way of doing things — the precise way we were taught to perform a job or function.

The Challenge of Reporting Near-Miss Bus Operation Incidents

The Challenge of Reporting Near-Miss Bus Operation Incidents

March 15, 2017

Nobody questions the value of reviewing vehicle “near-miss” incidents; however, there are plenty of skeptics out there harboring doubts that bus operators will actually report themselves committing unsafe acts. Often, when the subject of self-reporting is being discussed, it is greeted by swells of suppressed laughter by those familiar with human nature.

How Using One-Third Rule Helps Bus Operators Manage Intersections

How Using One-Third Rule Helps Bus Operators Manage Intersections

December 7, 2016

I’ve been noticing a rising number of folks — driving vehicles of all types — rushing through intersections after the signal has reached a full and solid red. There is one particular intersection in town where motorists continue to plow through the red signal as if stopping has somehow become optional. Rushing through intersections is not a safe practice and proceeding through a red signal still happens to be a traffic violation. This should be a secret to no one. Yet, it seems to happen all the time.

The Power of Collaboration to Promote Safe Bus Operations

The Power of Collaboration to Promote Safe Bus Operations

October 12, 2016

Years ago, I was with Louie Maiello when someone walked over and asked him for some advice: “We’re having problems with people remembering to secure the bus before they leave their seat. Do you have any advice? How can we get them to remember?” Without missing a beat, Louie said “PIN it.” The advice seeker happened to be a veteran mechanic, so he understood and walked away to resume his work. I stood there for a while scratching my head. Pin it?

Key Takeaways on Mass Transit Safety, Risk Management

Key Takeaways on Mass Transit Safety, Risk Management

July 19, 2016

The RMS occurred last month in Albany, N.Y. and it was a truly remarkable learning experience for those in attendance. The RMS serves as a one-of-a-kind event that brings together transit risk management professionals from all across the country to focus on key topics related to safety, risk management, planning and prevention.

How to Improve Sleep Quality for Safe Bus Operation

How to Improve Sleep Quality for Safe Bus Operation

May 11, 2016

Statistics show that for many people, sleep can be a matter of life or death. This may sound overly dramatic, but let’s consider that in 2005 the NHTSA conservatively estimated that drowsy driving was responsible for at least 100,000 automobile crashes, 71,000 injuries, and 1,550 fatalities annually.¹ More recently, the NHSTA estimated at least 846 people died in 2014 due to the effects of drowsy driving.

Focus on Coaching to Raise Driver Training Effectiveness

Focus on Coaching to Raise Driver Training Effectiveness

March 9, 2016

Dr. Donald Kirkpatrick long ago defined four levels of evaluation to determine the effectiveness of any training program. It is common for the bulk of effort being put forth by any training department to focus on Level 1 and Level 2. This typically manifests as the time we spend planning for and executing the prescribed training activities that form our learning programs. Many organizations are now finding that they have the most potential for achieving performance improvements by focusing more energy and resources toward Level 3 activities, such as coaching.

Adjust Your Bus Mirrors before Leaving the Yard

Adjust Your Bus Mirrors before Leaving the Yard

December 28, 2015

One agency decided to conduct a “safety blitz” to determine whether mirrors were being set correctly and discovered, much to their surprise, that a growing number of operators were leaving the yard in a mad rush to avoid being late — deciding to adjust their mirrors at their first available opportunity. What they learned was that many of these operators left the yard with every intention of setting their mirrors correctly. However, once these operators began servicing their routes — the task appeared to "slip their minds."

How Effective Scanning Helps Bus Operators See Potential Driving Hazards

How Effective Scanning Helps Bus Operators See Potential Driving Hazards

November 11, 2015

The world is a very busy place. We rely on our eyes to provide us with information that will keep us from harm as we operate our vehicles. It is difficult to over-emphasize the importance of effective scanning in order to recognize potential hazards early enough so appropriate action can be taken to avoid conflict. As a result, we spend a lot of time advising operators how often they should scan their mirrors, where to look for hazards, and how to bring objects into view that may be temporarily obstructed, and so on.

How Bus Operators Can Improve Focus, Concentration with Food Choices

How Bus Operators Can Improve Focus, Concentration with Food Choices

August 10, 2015

Operating a fixed-route bus in today’s distracted world requires high levels of focus and concentration. The brain must continually sift through loads of information during bus operation to determine what things can be ignored and what things pose a potential threat to our safety and well-being. Once the brain detects a potential hazard or threat, a specific response must occur to keep us from harm’s way. When our brains are forced to sustain this level of effort for long periods of time a great deal of energy is required.

Recognizing a Job Well Done at Your Bus Operation

Recognizing a Job Well Done at Your Bus Operation

June 8, 2015

In most organizations, 80% to 95% of all bus operators are found to be safe, reliable and courteous, but often, they don’t know it because nobody tells them. If safe bus operation represents a core value for your property, what are you leaders doing to encourage and reinforce the desired behaviors among your bus operators?

How to Develop an Extreme Defensive Driving Program

How to Develop an Extreme Defensive Driving Program

January 15, 2015

I may be all alone on this one, but I discovered that my kids (who were not allowed to play “shooter” video games) developed a distinct style of driving (and a lot of unsafe habits) while playing their video driving games as pre-teens and young teenagers. In fact, I wound up spending a great deal of my time trying to undo these habits and deep set tendencies while my boys still had their learner's permits.

Are your bus operators square?

Are your bus operators square?

November 14, 2014

If you are in transit, you know this question has nothing to do with lifestyle and everything to do with left hand turns. And in transit, we prefer squares. For the sake of clarity, we are talking about the difference between taking extra care to square off a left-hand turn as opposed to simply rounding the turn. A square turn involves setting up the pivot point of the bus and by its very nature requires the operator to conduct the turn at a much slower rate of speed.

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