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Four steps for success

By Jeff Cassell

This is the third article in the Driver Safety series by Jeff Cassell. For the full series, visit
Ryan is a new supervisor for the Moston Public Transit Agency. George, the executive director, challenged Ryan to prepare an implementation plan to greatly improve the safety NORMS in their agency.
“We think we should implement the plan in five steps,” Ryan said. “Linda will explain the first three.”
“Step 1 is that we need all levels of management working together to make this plan work,” Linda said. “We need to go in one direction and stay the course. All supervisors, dispatchers, trainers and every level of management are to be trained in Safety Leadership. We all need to agree the goals and how we will work together to set the safest NORMS. No one should ever turn their back on an unsafe behavior, or they are helping accept unsafe NORMS.”
“Step 2 is focusing on the drivers.,” she continued. “We need to train them in Safety Best Practices. Last week I asked around 20 of our drivers the definition of the word safety and absolutely no one was even close. They were all in agreement to having a passion for safety, but were embarrassed to discover they did not even know what safety was. Our training should be such that every driver can immediately react to the following questions, almost without thinking.”

Linda laid out the following key concepts:
Defining safety – Freedom from risk
Defining risk – The possibility of injury or damage to property
Defining where risk comes from – Unsafe conditions and unsafe behaviors
Name three behaviors where you can remove the risk – Not backing, no fatigue and not texting
Name three behaviors where you can reduce the risk – Following distance, rock & roll for turns, and positioning
What are our Vision, Mission and Values? Do it right, the first time, every time. Remove or reduce risk and  engage in no unsafe behaviors.

poster“Only when the drivers clearly understand these concepts and the desired behaviors can we start to create the safe NORMS,” Linda said.
Ian, the dispatcher then jumped in.
“We also need to make our message stronger in the desired NORMS,” he said. “Only yesterday I was in a discussion with a few drivers preparing for this meeting. I asked why we still have rear-end collisions when we teach a four-second following distance.  It was obvious from their comments that they interpreted our desire for four seconds as a suggestion, more of a do it when you can, and not a required practice.”
“We need to reinforce that this minimum four second following distance is a job requirement,” Ian continued. “It is NOT subject to interpretation. They are to stay back a minimum of four seconds, at all times. Our messages to achieve the desired NORMS need to be far clearer and far stronger.”
“The third step is focusing on the WIIFM (What’s in it for me?),” Linda said. “We should challenge the drivers to agree that any professional driver who causes or contributes to an accident is a failure as a professional.  We then need to challenge the drivers to apply the practices we are going to teach them and then they will never be a failure in their profession. If we explain that, as professionals, they should follow the 12 safe behaviors as detailed in the Vision, Mission and Values, they will remove all unsafe behaviors and never have an accident.”
“Step four is repetition, repetition and repetition,” Ian said.  “We need to continually reinforce these desired behaviors. Every week, discuss two or three of these desired behaviors and why they are the right thing to do. If anyone has an accident, we will discuss as a group the behavior that led to this accident and ask that driver to tell the group why we failed to change their unsafe behavior. We can all learn from mistakes.”
This series by Jeff Cassell will continue in the September 2015 Issue!

Jeff Cassell is president of Transit & Paratransit Company (TAPTCO) Hudson, Ohio. TAPTCO provides training courses that change driver behaviors. Visit

Posted by on Jul 12 2015. Filed under Features. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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