Readers most likely are not familiar with my past work with driver training simulation, so I want to devote this month's space to a brief description of what I discovered working with this technology and what it enabled me to do within the training department I was affiliated with.
Simulation is a training episode — it isnot a reality and it is never a perfect replication. It enables you to selectively emphasize what is important. The purpose of simulation training is to evaluate the judgment of the operator. Judgment is the mind's ability to come up with the correct action to stave off disaster. Judgment cannot be taught, only evaluated. Will the trainee make a correct judgment to stave off disaster? Knowing how to blend supplemental simulator training into an existing training curriculum will lead to favorable results and positive benefits to a training program. Attempting to build a curriculum around the simulator can be a costly and unfavorable venture.
The simulator enhances training by giving the student the opportunity to repeat a particular skill set until mastery sets in. The result is a better-trained operator better prepared to face actual high-risk driving situations as well as identify and avoid many potential collisions.
The simulator also enhances the instructor's capabilities. It exposes training inconsistencies among the trainers. Uniting instructors as one voice in the administration of a standardized curriculum ensures that the best students rise to the top. It also identifies those who must seek other types of employment. Utilized properly in the hands of a knowledgeable, enthusiastic and creative instructor, benefits will come in the form of collision reductions, lower claims, a decrease in the student washout rate and an increase in the safest students qualifying for operations.
Three reasons for not recognizing the benefits that should be achieved with simulation training include a lack of:
- Instructor accountability
Ensure that there is a buy-in from upper management, and have a sound plan to have a smooth and thorough transfer of simulator knowledge and application theory from the instructor/upper managerial ranks when personnel changes occur. This is as important to have in place as the simulator itself, to ensure that the simulator does not become idle and that it produces benefits for the training program. The simulator should continue in the role it was purchased for, despite departmental personnel changes.
When looking at those transit agencies that do supplement their curriculum with simulation training, their positive results stand on their own with regard to a reduction in washout rates, right- and left-side collisions, pedestrian contact and collisions overall.
Probably the most enhancing element of simulation training is allowing a student to see his or her results when not applying the best corrective measure in avoiding a particular situation, then allowing the student a chance to remedy the problem in a low-risk simulated environment until the solution has been demonstrated. Remember, reality sets in when a student can pause and reflect on what was not done correctly and what will have to be done differently in the future to avoid a possible reoccurrence, or even a more serious involvement.
In case you missed it...
Read our METRO blog, "Transit provides heightened point of view" here.
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.
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.
It’s no secret that I am a firm believer in bus simulator training. I enjoyed the benefits of utilizing simulators as a supplemental training tool during my days at New York City Transit. The simulators helped us produce outstanding results by targeting specific outcomes. If your simulator training is not producing what you expected it to deliver, the answer is plain and simple: something is wrong!