Grand Rapids, Michigan: Operation Lifesaver previews bus driver training programme

23 Oct

LXinfoImage353-Schoolbusdetail,LXinfoIn the USA, every school day, 480,000 yellow buses transport children to and from school. On the roads they use there are 212,000 level crossings. Each of these intersections presents a level of safety risk, and it is imperative that school bus drivers know how to drive safely when they approach highway-rail crossings.

Joyce Rose, president and CEO of the national rail safety education organization Operation Lifesaver, will today provide delegates attending the 2013 National Association of Pupil Transportation (NAPT) Annual Summit a sneak peek of a new online e-learning program that teaches safety skills for school bus drivers when a bus approaches and drives through a level crossing. The course places participants in the driver’s seat of the school bus and presents driving scenarios with different possible outcomes, providing independent learning that encourages quick thinking and critical decision-making.

School Transportation News reported that between 1902 and 2000, there were 166 train-school bus collisions. Although there hasn’t been a fatal school bus level crossing incident in the USA since 2000, incidents involving school buses at crossings occur with some frequency. The consequences of a school bus-related rail crossing incident can be catastrophic.

Joyce Rose will describe the new program today and Operation Lifesaver vice president Wende Corcoran will facilitate hands-on test drives of the programme at the spinoff session following Rose’s presentation. In addition, NAPT Summit attendees will have an opportunity to demo the course during exhibit hours on Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday morning.

The “Professional School Bus Driver E-Learning Program” will officially debut in January 2014. Follow @olinational on Twitter for updates.

2 Responses to “Grand Rapids, Michigan: Operation Lifesaver previews bus driver training programme”

  1. Tina Hughes October 24, 2013 at 02:05 #

    Hello Aiden

    Do we have an Operation Lifesaver organisation in the Uk?


    Sent from my iPad


    • aidannelson October 25, 2013 at 11:16 #


      No we don’t have an Operation Lifesaver in GB although its underpinning philosophy of tackling engineering, education and enforcement holistically has been adopted and adapted from a three E model to a five E model with the addition of enabling and evaluation. This all came out of a conference in 2002 when we brought the presidents of Operation Lifesaver in both the US and Canada over. At that time the industry was adopting a track off brand that has been replaced by a greater focus on company in the current campaigns. I regret this as it just serves to reinforce the issues as being rail rather than an inter-modal issue. Likewise harm arising on the line of route, also in the scope of Operation Lifesaver has moved away from the track off branding.

      I very much admire the charitable foundation approaches adopted with industry funding that are taking the lead in both New Zealand and Australia. That in New Zealand was founded by international cricketer Chris Cairns whose sister was killed in a level crossing accident. While they are of the industry there is scope to engage with other organisations and accommodate funding from multiple sources including the rail industry which is the Operation Lifesaver model. Operation Lifesaver works with a national office creating a range of resources and initiatives that are applied more locally through state / province Operation Lifesaver organisations that are the backbone of grass routes education and community outreach. Again, the rail and transit industries are a principle partner in local delivery of a nationally consistent non-rail branded education programme. In Europe, the leading exponent of Operation Lifesaver is Estonia, with the principles alive and well in Finland too. Elsewhere Argentina and Mexico have significant Operation Lifesaver programmes.

      ILCAD – the International Level Crossing Awareness Day is a great example of a multi-national initiative that has adopted the Operation Lifesaver philosophy which is starting to take hold more generally around the world.

      I am, as you will have gathered, a great champion of the Operation Lifesaver philosophy and still routinely engage with them, including presenting at their national conventions, most recently in 2012 in Denver.


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