Safety Corner

Covering diverse aspects of safety, including training, programs and products.

Learn how to create a comprehensive driver training program

This year I’ve been given the opportunity to present a session with my colleague, Steve Mentzer. Our session will take place on Tuesday morning, Sept. 14 at 8:30 a.m. and is entitled: “Creating a Driver Training Program from Start to Finish.” This discussion will appeal to those of you seeking to create an end-to-end driver training program utilizing an array of resources to bridge all learning modalities.

How Operation Lifesaver can help your transit system’s safety program

Transit is one of the safest ways to travel in the U.S. According to the National Safety Council, the lifetime odds of being killed as a rail passenger are 1 in 178,000, compared to the 1 in 415 odds of being killed as an occupant of a passenger car. A closer look at recent transit fatality statistics reveals where the problem areas lie. According to FTA statistics, 262 people died in transit-related incidents in 2012 (not including commuter rail systems, which are regulated by the FRA).

How 'Safety Blitzes' Help Test Bus Operators for Compliance

Think of a safety blitz as seeking confirmation that bus operators are in compliance, or non-compliant, with your standard operating procedures during an unannounced "spot check" of a specific skill set. A blitz may also be initiated in response to a sudden spike in unsafe actions being reported, observed or indicated by video review.

How to know when your driver trainees are ready to roll

There should come a time during each new student’s training bus instruction, when instructor-led skill development turns to student demonstration and “Show Time” begins. It is during this time the student must perform for the instructor. I call this a “Show Me” day.

Keeping your drivers on the bus from ‘hire to retire’

All too often what was taught during the initial training period can get diluted by what other operators may be saying or doing. Well-meaning veterans sometimes offer advice in an effort to “help” new operators that might be inconsistent with what was just taught to them on the training bus. Would you even recognize your past students by their driving performance? Do they resemble the student that you personally qualified into passenger service?

Training bus documentation...Focus on the facts

Going hand in hand with a standardized curriculum should be a standardized way of documenting student performance. When putting pen to paper, be sure an instructor’s documentation can be clearly understood by others who may need to refer back to it at a future date. Proper documentation is critical in the case of a student operator who may attempt to dispute a dismissal and may want to protest and pursue some type of legal options to challenge an instructor’s final evaluation.

Driver training: Avoid confusion between basic skills and route instruction

The "Training Bus Instructor" (TBI) spends hours diligently working with a new hire candidate to provide basic skills training. Through this process, the required skills and knowledge successfully transfers to the student operator and they are released to a "Route Familiarization Operator" (RFO) that will help them learn the routes.

New tech puts mobile surveillance in the fast lane

APTA pegs annual bus ridership in the U.S. and Canada at around 5.4 billion. It goes without saying that transit agencies strive to keep passengers safe and secure, but with large fleets to manage and millions of annual riders things can and do go wrong. That’s why onboard video surveillance is so essential.

Operator training: Mastering right turns

Among the most difficult tasks for a new student bus operator to perform on the training bus is a “right turn into a bus stop.” On a scale of one to five, with five being most difficult, I rank it a five. Right turns, in general, rank at the top of the list, but having to successfully enter a bus stop “immediately” after a right turn comes as a result of several instructional steps — demonstrated properly by the trainer.

Bus simulation, ensuring its proper place in a training curriculum

This topic builds on conversations I had with a variety of training professionals throughout 2013, so I hope this information helps those who were interested to know how to implement a simulator into an existing curriculum.

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Author Bio

Joyce Rose

President/CEO, Operation Lifesaver Inc.

Joyce Rose is President and CEO of Operation Lifesaver Inc., a national, non-profit safety education group whose goal is to eliminate deaths and injuries at railroad crossings and along railroad rights-of-way.


Louie Maiello

Louie Maeillo is a Sr. Consultant (Transit Training & Simulation), L-3 / DPA Independent Consultant, Bus Talk Surface Transit Solutions


Jason Palmer

President, SmartDrive Systems

Palmer is the president of SmartDrive Systems, a leader in providing comprehensive, video-based operator performance and safety programs to help transit agencies achieve operational safety and efficiency, protect operators and the public, and lower costs overall.


Barak Israel

product manager

Barak Israel is product marketing manager for the security domain for NICE Systems Inc.


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