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?"
Soon after reaching my 20th year in the transit industry, back in 1993, after a draining day of addressing routine bus issues, I would cross paths with another employee, who I always remember, seemed to be quietly “doing his own little daily gig.”
Years ago, I was with Louie Maiello when someone walked over and asked him for some advice: “We’re having problems with people remembering to secure the bus before they leave their seat. Do you have any advice? How can we get them to remember?” Without missing a beat, Louie said “PIN it.” The advice seeker happened to be a veteran mechanic, so he understood and walked away to resume his work. I stood there for a while scratching my head. Pin it?
Diagnose, Prescribe & Follow-Up, are the usual doctor’s actions that are utilized when visiting the doctor’s office for whatever is ailing us. This formula should also apply within your training department with regard to the ailment of Bus Collisions.
If we encourage our operators to treat operating a bus as a shift-long Zen moment, we may be able to reduce preventable crashes by a significant amount. The “Zen Operator,” who drives precisely at all times, is also less stressed. The Zen Operator flows through difficult, tight situations easily and their body language and vibe give passengers a sense of confidence. The operator whose passengers have a white-knuckle death grip on the back of the seat in front of them is not practicing “Zen Bus Operation.”
Ah, summer. Pool parties, barbecues, the smell of honeysuckle and the sight of lightning bugs. Or — a rise in crime, agitated riders seeking air conditioning, heat stroke, a new fiscal year, and the necessary, but unpopular, fare increases. However you view the summer months, with a direct correlation between high temperatures and increased crime, it's vital for transit leaders to be asking themselves, "Have we done everything possible to keep our people safe?"