Driving Experience vs. Driving a Bus

Posted on August 4, 2010 by Louie Maiello - Also by this author

Most new hires come with a basic knowledge of how to operate a motor vehicle. They understand the consequences of making the wrong choice when decision time is at hand and transfer this level of driving experience with them to the operation of a bus. The real task is getting the new hire to comprehend that they must adapt several new techniques to accommodate the larger vehicle, along with the addition of transporting passengers and so on.

New hires with prior experience operating large vehicles usually have an understanding of the allowances to be made with a larger vehicle in such things as turning and lane placement.  In most cases, however, a deprogramming process is necessary to eliminate bad habits and educate the new hire that they must now operate the transit agency's vehicle according to the standards of the Training Department. Many times those with prior experience cannot lose these habits during the training window and must be let go. Those who do adapt will become even better drivers.

On the other hand, those new hires who have never driven anything larger than a motor vehicle are faced with having to quickly comprehend and demonstrate, successfully during their training, those 'Dynamic Dozen' differences between the operations of a bus versus a passenger vehicle before being considered for hiring.

This leads us to the Dynamic Dozen, those differences and challenges that face new hires:

  1. The differences in visibility moving from an automobile to a bus.
  2. Increased mobility in the seat to reveal objects that may have been temporarily obstructed.
  3. Pivot points, which will clearly demonstrate that they must turn this larger vehicle differently than an automobile.
  4. Space management — objects to the right become players in routine driving.       
  5. The proper setup and increased utilization of several mirrors during routine driving.
  6. Approaching, entering and exiting intersections differently (transporting passengers) than a less-occupied passenger vehicle.
  7. The approaching, entering, servicing, and departing of both obstructed and unobstructed bus stops.
  8. Utilizing directional signals with the left foot.
  9. An oversized steering wheel, steering and the dangers of having hands on the spokes of the steering wheel.
  10. The need for increased clearance to accommodate a lane change.
  11. The importance of 'covering' and 'returning to the right' during routine driving.
  12. Mastering the 'big picture' which will lead to understanding the 'early warning tipoff,' rather than having to rely on one's reaction time. Usually by then it's too late.

Recognizing the hazard, understanding the defense and acting correctly in time to avoid the occurrence will allow one to acknowledge a potential hazard in ample time to take the correct action.

Covering these dynamic differences during the training process in a well-structured standardized format will allow the cream to rise to the top and eliminate those not qualified to operate a bus in passenger/customer service. The end result is a win-win for all.



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