PREVOST PREP PREPARES DRIVERS
Table of Contents
History of Prevost
The pre-trip inspection
The art of moving the critical mass
Driving in inclement weather
A few basics â€“ from one driver to another
Winter is here; drive slow and sure
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ABOUT PREVOST Cabinet-maker Eugene Prevost created his first wooden coach body in 1924. Since that modest beginning, Prevost’s legacy of fine craftsmanship and superior quality has been passed from generation to generation. Over the years, our inspiration and expertise have kept us on the cutting edge of design and technology. Our uncompromising commitment to quality and continuous improvement, and our dedication to safety and sustainability are instilled in every aspect of our business – from our birthplace in Sainte Claire, Quebec, and to our North American parts and service facilities. The Strength and Values of Volvo As part of the Volvo Group, Prevost has access to the financial strength, product development capabilities, and quality manufacturing technology of one of the world’s largest manufacturers of heavy-duty diesel engines, and the second-largest motorcoach and transit bus manufacturing group. Volvo recognizes a clear responsibility to reduce the environmental impact of its products, and safety has been a guiding principle since the company was founded in 1927. Over the years, a series of pioneering innovations has made Volvo a world leader in automotive safety. Dedication to safe, professional drivers Prevost recognizes that motorcoach operators are greatly challenged in recruiting, training and retaining qualified drivers. To that end, Prevost and the United Motorcoach Association (UMA) have joined forces to update and expand the Bus and Motorcoach Academy, creating a new program called Prevost Preparatory School for Professional Motorcoach Drivers, or “Prevost Prep.” Presented by Prevost, UMA and the College of Southern Maryland, Prevost Prep is designed specifically for drivers to meet the driver training needs of the motorcoach industry. The course prepares prospective drivers to pass the CDL written exam and provides a thorough review of applicable industry regulations for those already licensed.
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Preparing Drivers 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. Managing passengers 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 Pre4
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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. Safe driving 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-ofservice and properly maintaining a logbook. Security 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 online at www.uma.org/academy
By Prevost Prep
INSPECTION While getting behind the wheel and maneuvering through city traffic and open highways may be the primary objective of the professional motorcoach driver, the job entails myriad responsibilities beyond getting the passengers where they need to go. Safe, professional driving begins with a comprehensive pre-trip inspection of the equipment and components to ensure the vehicle is issue-free and ready to roll. The pre-trip inspection requires far more than just “kicking the tires.” The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) mandates the pre-trip inspection. The checklist is lengthy. Nothing must go unchecked or overlooked. The pre-trip inspection involves a walk around the coach, looking for both obvious and hidden dangers only an experienced driver can spot. Ignoring this first step only invites disastrous consequences should something fail or go awry. More than a few companies and drivers have faced serious charges and litigation where failure to carry out a pre-trip was an aggravating factor. In addition to the customary walk-around, of equal importance is the driver’s review of the inspection book from the previous trip. Anything can happen between one trip and the next. The average pre-trip is a 20-minute procedure, but a driver should allow enough lead time to conduct a proper and thorough pre-trip inspection. Here are a few of the more critical inspection areas: The walk around may begin by checking for adequate tire pressure. Whether or not the coach is equipped with a tire pressure management system (TPMS), a professional driver carries a personal tire gauge just to be sure. Test the light headlamps, backup lights, flashers, turn signals and horn. The driver properly sets the mirrors before embarking. To set the right rearview mirror, adjust it so that the driver’s light appears in the same position as when standing by the right front wheel. A mirror properly set shows the area two to three feet away from the bus. The entire left side of the bus should show along the left mirror edge. The rear position of the coach at ground level should show near the bottom edge of the mirror, and the driver should find the horizon line about three-quarters of the way up the mirror. Check baggage and all other exterior compartment doors for damage; that they operate properly and latch securely. From inside the coach, do the same for the entry doors. Ensure that the entry steps are clear with the treads not loose or worn and ensure the step lights are working. Make certain that the handrails are secure.
If equipped, inspect the wheelchair lift fully retracted and latched securely for leaking, damaged or missing parts. All emergency exits should be undamaged, operate smoothly and close securely from the inside. The exit warning sign should be working, as well. Check passenger seating for broken seat frames. Make sure frames are firmly attached to the floor. With the coach sitting level, check for audible air leaks from the suspension system. See that fuel tanks and lines do not leak and the fuel cap is tightly secured. Check that the battery box cover or door is undamaged and closed. The batteries should be secure, connections tight with cell caps present. The connections should show no sign of excessive corrosion. Test the brakes before departure to ensure they do not pull left or right and that they are able to stop the bus sufficiently. With the parking brake on, put the bus in gear and apply slight accelerator pedal to be sure “Park” holds. Though the pre-trip inspection is often taken for granted, drivers need thorough training and testing on this safe driving basic. Ultimately, a proper pre-trip inspection can help avoid costly towing bills, major repairs and injuries. More information on Prevost Prep can be found online at www.uma.org/academy
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The art of moving the critical mass Transporting large groups of people that wish to stay together throughout the trip often requires charter and tour coach drivers to maintain a convoy to a common destination. In any such movement that involves three or more motorcoaches, it is important to instruct the passengers to view the driver of their coach in the group as a member of a unified team of professionals. On the same hand, in such circumstances, it is equally important that the company has trained its drivers to conduct themselves as a team with the expertise to handle any situation. In the case of a convoy of heavy-duty vehicles, there is no quicker way to instill confidence and respect than for that team of drivers to appear to be clearly working as one unit. To negotiate a multiple bus movement successfully as a team, drivers are encouraged to follow these key guidelines: • Communicate with fellow drivers prior to departure — The company must be certain that each driver in the move understands every step of the entire trip itinerary; the precise route, all the stops and bathroom breaks enroute. • The lead driver must always know the status of the buses following — At no time will the lead driver ever race ahead independently and leave the other coaches behind. • A lways allow a follow distance of at least five seconds — Allow even more time as more perilous driving conditions warrant. • The driver in charge should make allowances for less experienced drivers on the team — Some drivers may not be as familiar with the area or the route, or with a convoy movement. • P rotect the newer, less experienced drivers — Do not put the least experienced or least familiar driver at the rear of the group. • Communicate by radio and maintain contact — Announce any deviations to the established plan or sudden turns and route changes well in advance. • Instruct each member of the team not to rush — Allow each driver the time necessary to operate safely and correctly handle any situation. Feeling rushed or fearful of lagging behind the group typically leads to tailgating — never advisable, especially in a convoy. • Never pass other buses in a convoy unless it is necessary — Passing the bus ahead for no reason is a sure way to lend the impression of being unprofessional. • If one stops, all stop — In the event of an emergency or break down, all the drivers in the group will stop and assess the situation as a team. Passengers on the disabled vehicle may need transporting to a safe location. • The driver responsible for the stop makes the call — If radio communication is available, the driver can advise the other buses if it would be safer and more expedient for only one bus to stop, allowing the group to proceed and then catch up and regroup at a predetermined time and location. 6
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Prevost says drivers are cornerstone resources of the industry.
Driving in a convoy always relies on common sense — from any position within the group, the driver of one coach cannot rely entirely on the actions of his fellow driver ahead. Each driver must anticipate the unexpected and be able to respond accordingly given the situation and conditions. The safety and overall satisfaction of each passenger in the group is at stake, not to mention the image of the motorcoach company. Everyone benefits from the extra attention the team of drivers gives to the extra details involved in moving the critical mass by coach. More information on Prevost Prep can be found online at www.uma.org/academy
By Prevost Prep
Driving in inclement weather As the summer sun continues to beat down, this may not seem like the time to take up driving in inclement weather. Nonetheless, rain and wet roads are always a challenge and winter weather isn’t that far off. With storms seemingly growing harsher and more relentless, there is no time like the present to address safe driving practices in these conditions. This may all be old hat to the industry’s countless safe professional coach drivers, but that doesn’t preclude beginning the discussion, keeping these safeguards front of mind and practicing in a safe place when winter arrives. Pre-trip prep If conditions look bad, get off the road. Anticipate a change in weather. Check a weather report before departure and always be prepared for sudden changes in road conditions. In threatening weather, the pre-trip inspection should include attention to tires, tire chains (if needed) and wiper blades. Don’t go. When the weather turns severe with heavy storms in the forecast, avoid making the trip. Postpone or cancel if possible. If the conditions look particularly ominous, stay off the roads until they clear. On the road Drive at a slower speed. Most accidents in inclement weather occur simply because the coach is traveling too fast for road conditions. Driving at reduced speed allows more reaction time in an event. Turn off the Cruise Control. The driver has more options without cruise control. In rain and snow, cruise control only increases the chance of losing control. To maintain traction, the driver needs to let off the accelerator quickly to reduce speed and maintain traction. Leave room. In inclement weather, allow ample stopping distance between vehicles on the road by increasing the following distance from the vehicle in front. Allow at least three times the usual distance.
Get a grip. Hold the steering wheel firmly and keep the vehicle steady through snow, ice and heavy wind. Avoid quick moves and sharp turns. Where possible, drive in the tracks of the vehicle ahead. Brake and accelerate lightly. Try not to do anything forcefully in slippery road conditions. Lightly pump the brakes to reduce the chance of locking the tires and going into a skid. To engage the anti-lock braking system (ABS) in an emergency, press and hold the brake down as far as possible. The ABS prevents the wheels from locking, enabling the driver to steer. Skids happen. The coach can go into a skid at any time for any reason. Don’t panic during a skid – let the training take over. As the coach begins to skid, the driver must avoid hard braking, turning sharply, and continue to steer in the direction the front of the coach should go. Brake, turn and accelerate one step at a time. Beware of black ice. Black ice is a thin layer of transparent ice formed when the temperature is close to freezing, with the road appearing to be wet rather than frozen. Black ice is the most dangerous winter road condition. It’s difficult to spot when the temperature gets close to freezing. Look for clues. Watch other vehicles, feel the road, and get off the road at the earliest possible moment. Anticipate bridges, structures and highway overpasses being more slippery than the pavement, which typically freeze first. More information on Prevost Prep can be found at www.uma.org/academy.
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A few basics — from one driver to another Common sense is low tech There is hardly a better way to learn and improve than good advice coming from someone who’s “been there, done that.” New drivers can always use a helpful hint now and then, even when what they are hearing couldn’t seem more obvious. The industry is full of veterans who also learned it the hard way; wishing someone had had just taken the time to share what they learned early on. It’s about continuing to practice the basics until it becomes routine. Bob Bergey, a veteran motorcoach driver for Hagey Coach, Franconia, PA, is one such veteran. He willingly shares his experiences and passes along what he has learned — and is still learning —at his blog, www.eightwheels.com. He offers up these few basics for new drivers, and for anyone needing a refresher — from one driver to another.
Operating a motorcoach is highly technical, but a low-tech, common sense approach to most situations will work well.
Do your homework Know precisely where you are going and how to get there — before you start. It is much easier today with the available online mapping and GPS. It is worthwhile to take the time to learn all the features of GPS driving directions on dashboard devices and smart phones. Once you know how to get there, brush up on the destination, and learn a few of the more interesting details. No one expects you to be an expert tour guide, and it certainly comes with experience, but being able to share general feeling for the ground you are covering is of tremendous benefit to the passengers and group leaders. On the road, keep a safe distance Chances are new drivers will start out on multiple-coach moves, or driving the second coach even further back in the pack. Not to worry. A responsible lead driver is not going to lose members of the team or let them get too far behind. Typically, new coach drivers are more apt to tailgate far more than experienced drivers, simply for fear of becoming separated from the lead driver due to a stop light or traffic congestion. Just keep the Four Second Rule in mind — maintain a space of four seconds from the coach ahead. Talk to other drivers —and listen Seasoned drivers will tell you their most valuable driving tips and lessons often come from other drivers in casual conversation during rest breaks or waiting for passengers. Listen to what they have to say but also don’t be afraid to ask questions, no matter how elementary they may seem. This leads to the next rule…
Never pretend to know what you don’t know This applies to every situation, both with other drivers and passengers. For example, if dispatch or the lead driver wants to know how familiar you are with a destination or particular area of the trip, be totally honest with the information —or lack thereof. It’s far better to admit not knowing and reaping the benefit of very clear instruction, rather than faking familiarity and getting lost in strange surroundings. As for the passengers, never pretend to know more than you do, as chances are good they’ll discover the truth soon enough. They don’t necessarily need to know that this is one of your first few trips as a coach driver. But, should they ask, be honest and they’ll be on your side. Sleep and get plenty of rest While the first few charters or tours will likely be the shorter assignments, there is no less reason for not getting a good night’s sleep and coming to work well rested and ready to go. Everyone in the industry knows all too well the danger and deadly consequences of overly fatigued drivers falling asleep at the wheel. It is always a good practice to find time to rest and nap during a trip. Once the passengers have been dropped off at their destination or next stop and there is a lull or down time, a 30-minute or so catnap can go a long way toward a driver feeling refreshed for the return trip. Operating a motorcoach, as well as understanding the components and mechanical workings, is highly technical, but a basic, low-tech common sense approach to most situations involving passengers and other vehicles on the road works well for the driver who performs safely with confidence and comfort. More information on Prevost Prep can be found at www.uma.org/academy.
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By Prevost Prep
Winter is here; drive slow and sure Winter has arrived. For most regions of the country, this means the return of ice, snow and slippery roads and highways. With storms seemingly more intense and growing harsher, professional coach drivers know to expect the unexpected and are bracing for what’s to come. While the best practices for driving in winter at its worst don’t really change from storm to storm or year to year, this is always a good time of year to remind drivers of the basics, and encourage them to keep safety front of mind to be mentally prepared for when the snow starts to fall. Some safety directors even advise drivers to brush up and get the feel on a safe stretch of road before taking passengers out. The basics — obvious but always in play
Beware of black ice Black ice is a thin layer of transparent ice formed when the temperature is close to freezing, with the road appearing to be wet rather than frozen. Black ice is the most dangerous winter road condition. It’s difficult to spot when the temperature gets close to freezing. Look for clues. Watch other vehicles, feel the road and get off the road at the earliest possible moment. Anticipate bridges, structures and highway overpasses freezing first and being more slippery than the pavement. Leave room Visibility is a challenge in inclement weather of any severity. Blizzards and blowing snow conditions do not necessarily pose a greater hazard in terms of traction, but pose a greater threat in terms of visibility. Drive only the speed necessary to be able to stop within
Go or no go? Throughout the winter, always anticipate a change in weather. Check weather reports before departure and always be prepared for sudden changes in road conditions. When the weather turns severe with heavy storms in the forecast, make a command decision and avoid travel, if possible. Postpone or cancel the trip as necessary, and stay off the roads until they clear. If it’s a go, go slow Unnecessary maneuvers can cause the coach to lose traction. Pump the brakes lightly to reduce the chance of locking the wheels and going into a skid. Turn off the cruise control. The driver has more options without cruise control, which only increases the chance of losing control in dangerous conditions. Most accidents in inclement weather occur simply because the coach is traveling too fast for road conditions. Anti-lock brakes, four-wheel drive, traction-control systems or chains do not empower the driver, they only assist. Normal — and never excessive — speed may prove too dangerous for the road and weather conditions. Drive as smoothly as possible with no sudden changes in speed. Avoid changing lanes if possible, and then very gradually. Read the road Is the road wet or frozen? Where the road appears wet, observe the area immediately behind the tires of the other vehicles. If the tires are spraying a mist, the road is not frozen. Drive with the same caution as with any wet surface. If not, the road is frozen and likely very slick and dangerous. Stay off the brakes; reduce speed by letting off the throttle and downshifting at low RPMs. Snow on the shoulders with travel lanes wet indicates that salt trucks have been working on the road. Drive using the same cautionary measures for a wet surface.
Unnecessary maneuvers can cause a coach to lose traction.
stopping distance. Allow ample stopping distance between vehicles on the road by increasing the following distance from the vehicle in front. Allow at least three times the usual distance. Don’t hit the panic button The coach can go into a skid any time for any reason. Learn not to panic during a skid and allow driver training to take over. As the coach begins to skid, hold the wheel firmly, avoid hard braking, or turning sharply and continue to steer in the direction the front of the coach should go. Brake, turn and accelerate one step at a time. busride.com | BUSRIDE