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January 19, 2010  |   Comments (2)   |   Post a comment

Do you know what safety is?

Safety is freedom from risk. Nearly every accident is caused by unsafe behaviors performed by the driver. Operations must identify what these behaviors are and use training and education materials to persuade drivers and managers to remove them.

by Jeff Cassell


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Unsafe behaviors

Almost every accident (99 percent) is caused by an unsafe behavior performed by the driver. Consequently, this is the area that requires the greatest focus.

Over the years, every driver develops PUBs: Patterns of Unsafe Behaviors. These patterns are actions they have always performed, and nothing has gone wrong so far (or perhaps only once), so they continue with the pattern of unsafe behavior.

Drivers have their own level of risk that they are prepared to accept. This differs for every person. At one extreme are people who go skydiving or ride a motorcycle without a helmet. The other extreme is people who will not drive at all, or won’t go out after dark. The rest of us fall in between these two extremes.

To actually put their safety passion into practice, the district must do all it can to identify and change unsafe behaviors. The district must find ways to reduce the risk tolerance levels so that when driving a school bus, no unsafe behaviors exist.

A passion for safety means you have a passion for hiring and training drivers who fully understand how to act under every possible scenario in a way that avoids unsafe behaviors at all times.

At this point, one of the trainers asked me to give some examples of the behaviors we wish to change. A study of the causes of past accidents clearly shows what these are:

• Following too closely (stay back four seconds)
• Not counting the kids away
• Not rocking and rolling for left-hand turns
• Unauthorized drops (these should never be allowed)
• Not looking ahead (always know what you are approaching)
• Not looking around (be aware of all your surroundings)
• Not slowing down for stale green lights

There are many more examples. The goal is to train drivers so they clearly understand that by failing to follow these safety practices, eventually they will be responsible for and cause an accident. You can change these behaviors.

Passion into action
We all share a desire for school busing to be safe. To do this, we need to remove the risks. Risks come from unsafe behaviors and unsafe conditions. We engineer away the unsafe conditions and now have to focus on the leading causes of accidents and injuries: unsafe behaviors.

To remove the unsafe behaviors, first we need to identify exactly what they are and then use effective training and education materials to educate and persuade drivers and managers to remove them. These programs should clearly cover the consequences of not changing behaviors, especially as the safety of the kids we transport is directly affected by the changes in driver behavior.

As I left the district, the staff was discussing how to turn their passion into action and actually put it into practice.                                           


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Michelle    |    Feb 23, 2010 06:57 AM

How many MORE times can we read this same article? It's been in numerous trade publications. If anyone actually took Mr. Cassell seriously and thought he was writing this article to benefit folks as much as he is his company's bottom line, it might be worth reading again. Give us a rest, Jeff. Your product and your experience are not the only valid points out there.

John Q. Busdriver    |    Feb 16, 2010 05:02 AM

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