While some transit agencies are cutting back or even eliminating service to save money, why not begin looking at the bottom line with student operators, during and at the completion of their behind-the-wheel training. Identifying poor performers during training and separating them prior to graduation can contribute greatly to overall safety improvements for the training department and, reduce claims. Releasing students at the completion of an unsatisfactory driver training performance will ensure that they will not be part of an agency's collision statistics.
Are transit agencies simply wasting dollars by having student operators sit in a classroom at the beginning of their training, rather than concentrating on learning the driving skills first on the training bus? If the trainee is unable to perform satisfactorily in the driving skills portion, information given in a classroom early in the training program will become meaningless. It's at this time they must be released from the training program.
Identifying those with driving skills first can increase the number of qualifying students who will benefit from uninterrupted daily driving thereby, saving training dollars. By leaving the classroom portion of training until after washing out those who failed the driving skills portion, you can ensure that every possible opportunity is given to the student to succeed. The uninterrupted daily driving will quickly present a picture to the instructor and the student as to who may or may not advance beyond the behind-the-wheel stage of training.
After orientation day paperwork, get rolling on the training bus and remain there until you have identified students who have qualified in the basic skill driving portion, as well as those who have exhausted the available amount of training and must resign for failing to qualify. Any instruction given in the classroom before determining if they can pass the driving portion will mean nothing to those who do not satisfactorily demonstrate the driving skills first.
Once the washout has occurred, classroom training can begin. The class will be meaningful and consist of those having one thing in common; they have all passed the driving portion. If you can't drive, you won't have to worry about being around for any classroom activities. Fewer supplies and resources will be needed, and a little savings here and there can add up. At the same time, only those who have first demonstrated the ability to drive are the ones advancing into depot line/route training and, eventually, to driving on their own.
The per-student training cost is wasted if every opportunity is not given to complete training successfully, or by the failure of the training department in not identifying, early on in training, those students who should never advance to passenger service.
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.
Nowadays, there’s an app for everything. Very few of those apps can turn an everyday transit rider into a hero who summons help for a person in distress. A routine ride on your transit system can be suddenly disrupted if you witness an assault, a crime in progress or a medical emergency. That is why apps designed for public safety must take all imaginable scenarios into consideration.
As we all have experienced, chatter regarding topics other than performance-based basic skill development, such as current events, sports or one’s families, will develop onboard and can break the tension that candidates are experiencing in attempting to do their best. This tension breaker may do good for them, but this should occur during non-development drive time.
Thinking of the situation in terms of “who should yield” will lead operators to a less aggressive mindset. Once we get our operators to think in terms of “who should yield,” the logical follow up question to ask is “will they yield?” Once operators start looking at situations with a “yield” attitude, it becomes easier to recognize situations, which may result in preventable crashes.
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.