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February 01, 2002  |   Comments (0)   |   Post a comment

Is It Safe to Fast-Track Driver Trainees?


A dire need of drivers, both substitute and regular, has prompted some school districts and contractors to “fast-track” recruits through the pre-service training program. The question, however, is whether these new drivers are fully prepared for their responsibilities. Driver trainers have a range of opinions on the subject. “I often try to put trainees on the fast track because they can sometimes draw out the training process by not making training a priority,” says Jason Sherman, contract manager for First Student Inc. in Bloomington, Ill. “Often there are other jobs, school, etc., to work around and before you know it the training either drags on and on or just fizzles out.” He adds, however, that trainees are tested only when the trainer is confident that they are ready. “There should not be time limits,” says Tonya, a driver trainer in Ohio. “Each individual is different and may take longer than someone else to train. I feel our jobs as bus drivers should not be taken lightly and increased time for a new driver to learn is to our benefit.” “I agree that putting a green recruit on the road should not be the norm,” says Larry Morris, transportation director at Northwestern Lehigh School District in Tripoli, Pa. Morris says that his pre-service training program spans 28 hours, eight beyond state requirements. But he adds that the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation allows certification at the mid-point of training due to the need for drivers. Morris points out that a shortage of drivers creates its own concerns. “There is a danger to safety when assignments and schedules are stretched to compensate for a lack of drivers,” he explains.

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