Management & Operations

Driver training a top priority at bus safety symposium

Posted on May 1, 2002

Mandatory commercial vehicle driver training was noted as the top priority of attendees at the International Truck and Bus Safety Research and Policy Symposium, held in April in Knoxville, Tenn. The training should include entry-level training, in-service training and remedial training. Many attendees felt that only through such training could drivers develop the proper behaviors, skills and performance capabilities. Though the motorcoach industry is still considered the safest form of travel, proper training will also inevitably lead to a decrease in accidents. “The industry’s safety record is an enviable achievement,” said Peter Pantuso, president of the American Bus Association. In the absence of credible research or supporting data, Pantuso expressed concerns about changing the operating environment of the industry. Craig Lentzsch, CEO of Greyhound Lines, called for caution before proposing significant changes. Other issues that attendees wanted to see addressed at a federal level were:

  • Public awareness training. The industry and government should take a leading role in promoting, educating and funding educational programs for the public that address safety issues when driving near commercial vehicles.
  • Safety enforcement should be evaluated and expanded to include not only the commercial vehicle operator but those involved in any decision-making, including shippers, brokers and receivers.
  • Driver evaluation. Carriers should be able to readily assess employment history, physical qualifications, driver training, crash and violation history and prior drug and alcohol violations. Building a strong driving team is imperative to running a good company. Studies indicate that a 10% increase in wages produces a 34% lower crash probability. Driver tenure also comes into play once an employee is happy with his job. In the early years of employment, each year of tenure reduces crash potential by 16%.
  • Behavioral research to determine which drivers may not be performing safely. Speed was noted as the primary cause in 29% of fatal crashes, with unsafe following distance the most common traffic law violation. Assessment should include moving violations, incidents of hard braking, public and motorist complaints and hours of service violations. The Research and Policy Symposium was sponsored by the National Safety Council with the goal of creating safer fleets and highways. — Jack Burkert
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