Are you getting frustrated because — in spite of what you’re doing — collisions are not dropping at your agency? With just a few tweaks, you can make a difference. If you are a chief training officer (CTO), training director, instructor or equivalent at your agency, then this message is for you.
Trainers are the most important link in the training chain. Their decisions are critical in determining whether specific types of collisions spike or head downward.
As the CTO or director are you too comfortable in your belief that “once an instructor always an instructor?” Do you track the decisions that your instructors have made with regard to the collisions and/or incidents that their students may have been involved in during their first 60 days in passenger service after graduation? I say 60 days after graduation because students are usually still performing the way they were taught, the correct way. As you get beyond 60 days, the teachings of their training bus instructor begin to get diluted due to overconfidence and what they may see and hear from others.
One indicator whether an instructor made the right call by qualifying the student into passenger service can come in the form of a high collision rate attributed to the students of a particular instructor and/or an identical type of collision occurring to students that were all trained by that same instructor. If this is the case, then it might be time to move that instructor from training and reassign them with different responsibilities within the department. You can't afford to have a weak link in the chain. It is their primary responsibility to prevent any candidate from advancing into passenger service that will be a risk to the public, the agency and themselves.
Holding instructors accountable — combined with a front-loaded, behind-the-wheel skill development (aka "standardized curriculum" in place) — and a FINAL training day with "automatic disqualifiers" as part of the training program will guarantee a reduction in collisions.
I firmly believe most collisions that occur during the first 60 days after graduation are due to students mistakenly being qualified from the training bus where "automatic disqualifiers" were not in place at the agency. "Automatic Disqualifiers" do not allow that to happen. Simply put, if an automatic disqualifier action is done on the FINAL day of training, that candidate is dismissed. By dismissing, there is no advancement to passenger service and by not being in passenger service, no collision/ incident can occur.
Lastly, training should not be endless. You train within the allotted training days available in the program. Everyone gets the same opportunity to pass or fail by being held to the same standard.
Start now and begin to reduce collisions.
Louie is the former director of training for the New York City Transit Dept. of Buses Safety & Training Division and 2003 NTI Fellow. Currently, he is sr. consultant/SME in transit training & bus simulation at L-3 D.P. Associates and independent consultant at "Bus Talk" Surface Transit Solutions.
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