I read an interesting story in The August Chronicle
recently that reported on an impending partnership for school bus driver training between an Augusta, Ga.-based school district and a local technical college.
According to the article
, the Richmond County School System board of education’s human resources committee has given initial approval to loan buses, a simulator and track space for a Commercial Straight Truck and Passenger Driving Program that will be offered at Augusta Technical College in the fall. (“Straight trucks” include school buses, but not tractor-trailers and other jointed vehicles.)
The 15-week course would train school bus driver candidates in the fundamentals of driving and operation, and graduates would receive a technical certificate of credit. They would then have to report to the school system for further certification, and then to the Department of Motor Vehicles to obtain a commercial driver’s license. Jimmie Wiley, director of transportation at the Richmond County School System, told The Augusta Chronicle
that the course would “enhance candidates’ abilities and create a more qualified applicant pool.”
I’m interested to read your thoughts on this partnership/program. Do you think it could be an effective way to, as Wiley said, enhance candidates’ abilities and create a more qualified applicant pool? Post a comment below or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
Around the time that I read this article, I also spoke with a driver trainer at an operation in California, who shared with me some of the challenges she faces in instructing bus drivers. One thing she said was that she sometimes finds it difficult to continually come up with new and interesting ways to present material to her drivers.
's inaugural Driver Training Survey, which Executive Editor Thomas McMahon wrote about in last week’s blog post
, respondents were asked, “What is your biggest challenge in school bus driver training?”
Not surprisingly, there was a wide range of answers, and many people relayed a similar challenge that the trainer at the California operation faces.
One person wrote, “Finding current topics that the drivers will actually learn something at the training session is the biggest challenge in school bus driver training. … It is difficult to come up with topics that [are] interesting all the time.”
This person also said that she recently had an official from the Federal Railroad Administration come to her facility and present on railroad crossing safety to the drivers. They then took a field trip to an actual railroad crossing, where they were able to board the train and see the crossing from the train engineer’s point of view. “Our drivers still talk about that training session,” she wrote.
Here are some of the other challenges mentioned by survey respondents:
• Money and time to do the extra training needed, not just meeting state and federal requirements.
• Finding drivers who are interested in taking the online training and face to face portion before driving for our district.
• Retention. Our biggest challenge is in keeping the driver. With the low pay, large responsibility and the distractions from the students, it just doesn't add up for the new hire.
• Dealing with student behavior problems and helping the drivers understand discipline procedures.
• Getting experienced drivers to receive instruction and criticism, and understanding the importance of continual self improvement of their skills.
Do you or your driver trainers face any of these challenges at your operation? If so, have you found an effective way to address them?
Until next time,
| posted on Monday, April 16, 2012 8:58 AM