Dick Clark, Levon Helm, Davey Jones, Whitney Houston, just a few names of some music industry personnel who passed on this year. I’m sure somewhere in their past, good old Rock & Roll influenced some part of their history. As a musician, my beginnings and brush with stardom began when four lads from across the pond arrived on our shores on Feb. 7, 1964 and unleashed an all-out assault on the music industry that will probably never be seen again. These lads opened up a door to a room that no one knew existed, and to this day, no one else has found it — they too often referred back to Rock & Roll as their influences growing up across the pond. I think you know who I’m speaking of.
Transit has its own version of Rock & Roll. I once read someone’s comment that, in the case of a bus operator, ‘Rocking & Rolling’ in the seat should not occur if their mirrors are set properly. I strongly disagree with that statement and regrettably say a statement like that will precede an increase in pedestrian knockdowns, especially when turning left and departing bus stops. Although the Rock & Roll, or, as others say, the ‘Crunch and Lean’ method, is not the only part of an operator’s turn technique, it is a crucial part of the package. Rocking and Rolling must continue to be taught during training, so operators are made aware there are temporarily obstructed objects that can only be revealed by moving forward and side-to-side in the seat. Remaining complacent with a ‘fixed stare’ while conducting turns will lead to an increase in pedestrian and fixed-object contact.
Many intersection collisions occur because the operator does not expect the unexpected to occur. Professionals are responsible for a safe and successful vehicle approach, entry and exit when dealing with intersections. Intersections contain many unfavorable conditions for bus operators, and being able to process more information by seeing more through a controlled sequence of observation skills can provide much needed information back to the operator to prevent an unfortunate occurrence from materializing. Remember the basics:
- Scan the intersection before you arrive there.
- Take a mental snapshot of possible hazards before arriving at the intersection.
- Understand what defensive measure may have to be put in motion.
- When turning, ‘walk’ the bus three to five miles-per-hour through the turn as you ‘Rock & Roll while scanning.’
- Follow through and remain off the accelerator until clearance has been confirmed.
For those of you who supplement your ‘live’ training with bus simulation training, this is a great lesson to learn in the relaxed environment of your simulator. It’s not time consuming; it’s simple and highly effective. Those of you not yet on board with bus simulator training and are planning to attend BusCon, stop in and grab a seat as I will be speaking on “Getting a Bus Operator Simulator Training Program off the Ground.”
There is always room for membership in the “Bus Operators’ Rock & Roll Hall of Fame,” although having a Hit record in your employee file will not get you in!
In case you missed it...
Read our METRO blog, "OCTA CEO: Educating the next generation of transportation leaders" 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!