By Prevost Prep
Founded in 2007 by the United Motorcoach Association (UMA), the Bus & Motorcoach Academy was started with five online courses for business owners and five online courses for motorcoach drivers and operators. As of late 2013, nearly 900 online courses had been administered, and the Academy had become a great resource for UMA member companies.
But what about prospective drivers? Those who didn’t already have their CDL? Enter Prevost. Dedicated to growing the number of skilled drivers in the motorcoach industry, Prevost approached the Bus & Motorcoach Academy to develop a curriculum that would not only convey the knowledge necessary to pass the written exam for a Commercial Driver’s License; but practical knowledge that will better prepare a driver for “day one” on the job.
By expanding and revamping its existing courses through Prevost’s support, the Academy launched the Prevost Preparatory School for Professional Motorcoach Drivers (Prevost Prep for short) in February 2014.
Engaging enforcement officials
The nature of commercial motor vehicle operations requires frequent interaction with enforcement personnel. These interactions can range in purpose from basic highway enforcement, security issues, and routine vehicle and driver inspections. Drivers engage a large cross-section of law enforcement officials whose training, experience, and personalities vary significantly. This course covers the basic responsibilities of the driver when engaging Federal, state and local law enforcement officials, and passenger care during inspections. Also covered are the basic North American Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance inspections and out-of-service criteria.
This course provides an overview of passenger issues, such as transporting baggage and passengers, including special needs passengers, special considerations for school buses, transit considerations, and issues of customer service and customer care relevant to the motorcoach operator. After completing this course, students will be familiar with basic customer service considerations relevant to the motorcoach industry. Students will also gain insight in how to defuse challenging customer service situations. This course also covers the basic unique differences between passengers on charter and tour groups, scheduled service, and local shuttle. The course highlights “how and when” to engage passengers including before departure, during the trip, and post trip. Highlights will include passenger and passenger possessions security, unruly passengers, passenger illness, and other unanticipated passenger emergencies.
The motorcoach driver profession
This course highlights the motorcoach driver profession by identifying the unique skills, knowledge and responsibilities associated with operating a motorcoach. The course includes employer’s regulatory responsibilities as well as the driver’s. Basic ethics and behavior are included, along with United States Department of Transportation whistleblower regulations. The course addresses the driver’s responsibility of maintaining a Commercial Driver’s License in good standing and the Federal Pre-Employment Screening process. The basics of wardrobe selection, grooming and basic courtesies, as well as information about typical company rules and policies will be provided.
Motorcoach in motion
The modern motorcoach contains complex systems. Today’s driver may not have basic familiarity with basic automotive functions. While it is generally not the duty of a professional driver to repair a bus or motorcoach; it is often critical for the driver to make basic assessments in order to effectively communicate with shop personnel and manufacture technicians. This course highlights the critical pre-trip inspection and assessment of the condition of the bus and/or motorcoach, basic parts identification, fuse location, fluid levels, climate control, and fire extinguisher. Also highlighted are tire inspection, condition, and tire-pressure monitoring.
Navigation and weather
This course covers basic route planning, map reading skills (including map symbols), distances, proper utilization of advanced electronic mapping systems, Global Position Systems, online mapping and route searches, electronic “street views,” and obtaining advanced traffic advisories. Weather conditions frequently contribute to bus and motorcoach crashes. Anticipating weather conditions better prepares a professional driver for route deviations and/or appropriate vehicle changes that mitigate the chances of a crash. This course will cover the appropriate places to obtain advance weather reports and road conditions, coordinating with company dispatch along with group leaders. The course will also cover the use of chains, tire pressure, effects of altitude, allowing ample time and general systems checks.
This course explores safe driving procedures under normal and special conditions, off-road vehicle handling and in-depth case studies in safety as related to the motorcoach industry. After completing this course, students will be familiar with general safe driving practices, understand the importance of various road conditions, and be able to analyze various driving scenarios to develop critical thinking skills needed to handle on-road and off-road situations. Also included in this course is basic knowledge of passenger carrier driver’s hours-of-service and properly maintaining a logbook.
This course features “First Observer” techniques, guidelines and procedures relevant to the driver, including crisis response. After completing this program, students will be familiar with the requirements of the Highway Watch Program and understand how to implement the “First Observer” recommended practices. Students will also learn how to increase the security of their motorcoach in the field, as well as how to handle security/crime-related situations. NOTE: We are advised by the Transportation Security Administration that this training will soon be required for all CDL holders.
More information on Prevost Prep can be found at www.uma.org/academy.