Drivers be aware
John Passananti developed D.A.P. to stress the finer points of driving safety and professional behavior
By David Hubbard
John Passananti developed his proprietary Driver Awareness Program (D.A.P.) in direct response to the unsafe and unprofessional driving practices he has witnessed in his 30 years working in commercial transportation. In this time his duties with Campus Coach Lines and Hudson Transit, both based in New York, NY, have included conducting driver training sessions as well as safety presentations for Lancer Insurance Company, Long Beach, NY. Passananti says the 2011 New York bus crash on the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway that killed 15 people sparked his idea for the program. He set out to develop a comprehensive driver training program he hopes will instill pride in the individual sitting behind the wheel of a luxury motorcoach.
“I have observed far too many bus and coach drivers who in my mind are simply unaware of the destructiveness they are capable of through their lack of knowledge of safety principals, standard operating procedures and personal conduct,” he says. “Some drivers have no idea how or why they contribute daily to high operating costs and a negative public image of their company.”
In addition to rudimentary safe driving techniques, the D.A.P. program that Passananti launched in January focuses on a thorough knowledge of the vehicle, driver appearance and personal conduct.
“I want to provide a remedy to make drivers more aware of their position as the vital connection between the company and the client customers,” says Passananti. “The goal of every driver should be to prevent and avoid accidents, satisfy his passengers and help trim down vehicle maintenance and repair costs. They have so many aspects to consider.”
His self-conducted D.A.P. seminar emphasizes seven points of awareness:
1. Be the captain — Bus and coach drivers can take a lesson from commercial airline pilots. Smartly dressed and professional pilots exude confidence and trust in their training, as the sterling safety record of the airline industry demonstrates.
2. Know the bus — The safest driver recognizes every odd noise coming from the various components and systems, and responds immediately when the correct numbers and levels on the gauges fall below normal, as well as tire pressure and the correct levels of fluid. He takes time to read the vehicle operation manual from cover to cover.
3. Represent the company — The driver is the first and sometimes only contact between the passengers and the operator. He represents his employer through his professional pride. He knows how to execute company policy.
4. Respect the passengers — Top drivers let their professionalism do the talking. They show their respect to the passengers by ensuring their correct and decisive actions instill trust that their leader has safety and comfort foremost in mind.
5. Make a smooth drive — Nothing demonstrates professional driving faster and easier than a smooth coach ride. The best driver should be able to set a glass of water on the dash and drive from point A to point B without spilling a drop. He is aware that any erratic handling of the vehicle, fast starts, sudden braking or speeding can not only lead to an accident, but create an unsatisfactory experience for the passengers. Motion sickness is not uncommon.
6. Read the road — The best drivers know the road ahead. They make it a practice to be aware of highway conditions and hazards, toll booths, trusses, curbs and any temporary dividers and lanes. He does his homework as part of his pre-trip routine to know where trouble may lurk and forms an advance plan for how to respond.
7. Obey the law — Safe driving begins by simply performing the job in a totally compliant manner with respect to laws and regulations. This includes speed limits and rules of driving, proper licensing and certifications, accurate and updated logs and legal documents, and excellent vehicle maintenance.
Passananti makes D.A.P. available to all bus and coach transportation companies, as well as municipal transit authorities, preferably in groups of 10 to 15 drivers. The seminar includes a follow-up visit after six months to review the progress of each participant and addresses other issues and trouble spots.
Upon completion of the program, each driver receives his D.A.P. certification. Passananti also sends a letter to the operator company, with copies to the insurance company and state DOT, stating he has put the driver through the program. For more information, visit www.driverawarenessprogam.com. BR