How to Develop an Extreme Defensive Driving Program

Posted on January 15, 2015 by Steve Mentzer - Also by this author

I may be all alone on this one, but I discovered that my kids (who were not allowed to play “shooter” video games) developed a distinct style of driving (and a lot of unsafe habits) while playing their video driving games as pre-teens and young teenagers. In fact, I wound up spending a great deal of my time trying to undo these habits and deep set tendencies while my boys still had their learner's permits.

I would much rather have had my boys playing a video game that could have taught them how to drive defensively, but I never managed to find “Extreme Defensive Driving” at the local Game Stop. I'm afraid such a game would lack the mass appeal of titles, such as "Need for Speed," "Fast & Furious," or "Grand Theft Auto."

To re-program my “top guns,” I borrowed much of what I learned from sitting in on training sessions at various transit properties. As a result, we talked about things such as forward planning, maintaining a safe following distance, speed management (slower is better), and looking for those "tip offs" that often indicate potential hazards before they occur.

RELATED: Are your bus operators square?

If you were tasked with putting together your own video game, titled "Extreme Defensive Driving" — what kind of things would it include? Are there key phrases that you could use to trigger a safe response in your students or to reinforce desired driving behaviors? Would your message change if you were teaching your own children rather than your operational staff? What are some of the “tip offs” you would include?

Here’s a few to get you started with your own lists:

  • Someone driving in and out of their lane.
  • Crosswalk signal flashing to indicate a “stale” green condition.
  • Exhaust coming out of a parked car with wheels turned left.

I’m sure you can think of many more “tip offs” to add, so feel free to leave some ideas in the comments section below.

Check your list to ensure that your instructors are using memorable phrases to evoke safe driving responses from your new hires and veterans alike.

The goal is to raise your level of training to be as engaging as the games we play on our computers. Maybe this fun, little exercise will help you surface new ideas or identify small gaps in your programs, that when filled, will benefit your bus operators.

In case you missed it...

Read our previous blog, "When Does Technology on Buses Become the Problem?"

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