What constitutes true safety for motorcoach drivers? There is a litany of self-created training courses which operators provide daily to their drivers– and, though they all follow some basic principles accepted throughout the industry, a uniform safety training course has yet to be codified. Jeff Cassell, owner of the Motorcoach Safety Training Company (MCSTCO), has done that with his new proprietary driver training course designed specifically for motorcoach drivers.
“We created this training course with our focus being on the outcomes,” Cassell says. “The goal is to persuade drivers to avoid unsafe acts at all times. If they do that, they will never have an accident.”
MCSTCO training is geared toward persuading drivers to follow 15 key safe practices which Cassell has outlined, and thus avoid the negative outcomes associated with each (Figure 1).
A substantial part of the course addresses Cassell’s WIIFM – “What’s in it for me?”. It’s crucial that drivers understand and accept that it is to their benefit to follow these safe behaviors. That, Cassell says, is the true key toward curbing unsafe behaviors.
“We have eight programs that all continually teach, train and reinforce drivers to follow these 15 safe practices,” Cassell says. “This is how you create a safety culture.”
Cassell says the course’s two foundational programs – Safety Best Practices and LLLC Defensive Driving – create the foundation for driver performance.
“Safety means freedom from risk.”
Safety Best Practices starts by asking drivers – what does the word safety mean? Cassell says that very few drivers can actually answer this question.
MCSTCO teaches that safety means freedom from risk. If you wish to be safe, you need to remove or reduce risk. The program then defines risk – the possibility of bodily injury or damage to property.
“Safety Best Practices teaches something new to the drivers, and it’s very good at explaining how they can reduce risk,” says John Goebel, vice president of Baron’s Bus Lines, Independence, OH. “It’s a great training course for new drivers, as well as re-training current drivers.”
“Risk is the true enemy,” Cassell says. “In order to eliminate it, we need to find where risk comes from – Unsafe Conditions and Conscious & Deliberate Unsafe Behaviors.”
“We actually engineer away unsafe conditions (tires, brakes, steering, etc.),” Cassell says, “so much so that less than 1 percent of accidents are caused by unsafe conditions. The other 99 percent are caused by conscious and deliberate unsafe behaviors. That’s why this program identifies and consistently reinforces the 15 conscious and deliberate unsafe behaviors that lead to accidents”
The second foundational course, LLLC Defensive Driving, teaches the four core defensive driving skills: 1. Look ahead; 2. Look around; 3. Leave room; and 4. Communicate. Cassell says its shows how these driving practices can be used to remove or reduce risk.
Then, in each of the remaining five driving behavior programs, MCSTCO teaches how to remove or reduce risk by using the LLLC Defensive Driving practices to avoid accidents in the following areas:
• Rear-end collisions
• Pedestrian and bicycle awareness
• Merging, lane changing and passing
• Wheelchair lift operations and securement procedures
Each program continually reinforces the definition of safety, definition of risk, where risk comes from and how to remove or reduce risk using the LLLC practices. The course also includes a program on how to deliver great customer service.
“In the past, we had assembled pieces and parts of training materials from different vendors,” says John Russ, vice president of operations at Grand Tours, New York, NY. “We’ve thrown them all away, as they had no flow or connectivity, and were very limited in what they achieve.”
Grand Tours has been using the program since June. Russ says the course presents best practices and the logic behind them, and then reinforces those best practices throughout its eight programs. “It’s the most professional training course we’ve ever seen,” he says.
By continual reinforcement of the same safety messages and simplifying the desired outcomes, drivers become indoctrinated with the desired behaviors.
The new course from MCSTCO represents a unique shift in the industry, as it appears to be unlike any other course that came before it in terms of comprehensiveness and ease-of-use.
“Most operators can’t, in their wildest dreams, imagine that there’s any safety training that’s markedly better than what they do today,” Cassell says. “There is, and it all comes from reinforcing these core values until they become second nature in drivers.”