As the winter months arrive, ridership is up for many transit properties across the country, with some reporting as much as a 5 percent to 8 percent spike. Unfortunately, this increase can also come with a spike in collisions.
When hiring new bus operators in a short period of time to satisfy the latest service requirements, let's make sure you are not overlooking some of the things that you normally would not have in the training and qualifying process of a new hire. If ever there was a time to ensure that your students are performing to your satisfaction, it is now. If you are simply looking at satisfying the hiring requirement numbers as quickly as possible, be warned: it will come back to burn you in the form of a collision statistic.
This training and qualification process is not about making friends or having to worry about hurting someone's feelings. This is one of the few jobs where an employee must be 100 percent accurate in every decision made during a day's work. Anything less can cost someone's life. Let's look at a few ways to make sure you are prepared for the rush of new hires, and that they are prepared to proceed to passenger service as equipped as possible.
Your most common types of collisions are out there waiting to happen to that new probationary operator. If you have one, you can expose your student to this exact type of collision on a driver training simulator before they experience it on the live bus. Naturally, it is the responsibility of you and every other instructor to know what your most popular type of collision is at your agency. Without all, and I repeat all, of the instructional staff knowing what that collision is, there can be no effective standardized corrective action applications to administer.
Without standardized corrections in place, your situation will remain the same then eventually get worse. Do you have a specific corrective action application in place for every type of collision, whether it is with a vehicle, fixed object or pedestrian, that may occur at your property? It should be a short but concise 'training episode' to be administered in the simulator that will reveal to the student the:
Cause - The incorrect actions taken by the student which led to the incident.
Corrective Action Application - The correct way of doing it to minimize a future occurrence.
Successful Application - Allowing them to apply the corrective action without incident.
Some of the benefits of applying simple but concise corrective action applications to every type of collision/knockdown that your agency is experiencing will reduce your overall collision numbers and deliver a well-trained and well-prepared student to passenger service.
Start them right and plant the seed of good habits!
When official-plated transit authority vehicles were scarce and basically reserved for those in upper management to go about their daily business to and from meetings, etc..., road control would be the responsibility of the “fixed-post foot dispatcher.” Not all of these positions have been eliminated, but I wonder if any readers remember the stability and sense of control that was present while the foot dispatcher was on post?
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."
Bus operators are not blindfolded. Operators are trained and required to identify potential hazards, based on their forward planning skills. With regard to left turns, these so called “blind spots” are really areas behind the left A-pillar/mirror that are “temporarily” obstructed to the operator, not blind to the operator. The key here is for the operators to utilize their observation and forward planning skills to minimize the time that their vision is temporarily obstructed. The pedestrian that regrettably becomes a victim of bus contact should be in the clear view of the operator long before arriving at the location where the contact occurred. Pedestrians are not “coming out of nowhere!"
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.
Today I’d like to mention a few effective policies that were routinely utilized in the past, which were (and for the few agencies that still practice them) very effective in producing safe bus operators, including covering your right, terminal checks and company vehicles.