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.
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!
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."
In most organizations, 80% to 95% of all bus operators are found to be safe, reliable and courteous, but often, they don’t know it because nobody tells them. If safe bus operation represents a core value for your property, what are you leaders doing to encourage and reinforce the desired behaviors among your bus operators?
Those of you who take a few minutes each month to follow my blogs, or have attended one of my past presentations at transit events, first let me thank you. These blogs and presentations, in combination, have been promoting surface transit standards in a form of a standardized curriculum for over 10 years now. I ask you, are we not long overdue in getting transit specific standards a done deal? By the time of this posting, I would have again stood before a group of transit professionals at a recently attended transit function in Orlando, Fla., speaking on this exact topic.
A final day should mean exactly that, the end — no more — learning opportunities that had been available no longer exist. The clock has run out. Hopefully, there is a final day designated for trainees at your agency, a time where you draw the line and make a decision, because, as we all know, not everyone can operate a bus. For the trainee, the final day is the most pressure-packed day they will spend on the training bus. Any student entering their final day should be well-prepared and fully aware of what they are faced with, as all of the requirements should have been clearly covered as part of their first day orientation. Remember, no surprises!