Picking up from my last blog, I would like to thank all those that came out to the three educational sessions conducted on Driver Training Simulation at the National RTAP and its partner organizations, the Federal Transit Administration and the National Tribal Transit Association in Fort McDowell, Ariz. I am looking forward to the follow-up conversations. It appeared the simulator hands-on training was well-received.
With that under your belt now, I thought the following words would be a nice follow-up to the sessions and questions that were asked:
Understanding how to blend simulator supplemental training into an existing training curriculum will most definitely lead to favorable results and positive benefits to a training program. Attempting to build a curriculum around the simulator is a mistake.
It can be a costly and unfavorable venture. The return on the training dollars that would have been invested in this tool in the form of favorable results and proven documented data to justify the purchase will be compromised. Curriculum in place first, then simulation supplementation.
Having the following three ingredients in place will minimize the possibility of not reaping the expected benefits of simulation training:
- Upper management buy-in.
- Instructor accountability.
- Pilot programs.
With regard to simulation, a lack of standardization in the application of simulator supplemental training can interfere with the process of obtaining the benefits one would hope to receive. When utilized properly in the hands of a knowledgeable, enthusiastic and creative instructor, the benefits will be easily recognized by all in the form of collision reductions, lower claims, a lowering of the student wash-out rate and an increase in only the cream of the crop of trainees being released to passenger service.
Chief training officers must remain aware that the lead simulator instructor can make or break a simulator program. They must be carefully selected and have the ability to identify a qualified back up ready to step in as necessary. The lead instructor is one of the most important, if not the most important, ingredient to ensure that simulator training remains effective and that the excitement generated early on during “Train the Trainer” sessions does not cease, causing the simulator not to be utilized as it should.
Training agencies can apply this supplemental training in different ways to improve training in general. Supplementation to an existing curriculum and not a replacement for curriculum is the correct application process.
In case you missed it...
Read our METRO blog, "OCTA CEO: New paratransit aids customers, improves efficiencies" here.
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.