Thursday, May 13, 2010

Safe Driving is Key

Safe driving is a job requirement at Community Transit. For some it’s also a family legacy.

Earlier this year, Carl Huth, Jr. earned a National Safety Council Two Million Mile Driver award. His late father, Carl Huth, Sr., was honored as one of Community Transit’s original Million Mile Drivers in 2001. Carl, Jr. has worked for Community Transit for 25 years and has never had a preventable accident in that time.

Diane Sassé watched her mom, Elaine Vail, earn both a Million Mile Driver and Two Million Mile Driver awards. Now, after 14 years of driving for Community Transit, Diane has continued the family tradition by reaching her own Million Mile mark.

Elaine attended her daughter’s awards ceremony. “This is big,” she told Diane, who took the award in stride.

It takes drivers approximately 12½ years without a preventable accident to become Million Mile Drivers. Community Transit bus drivers are paid to drive in the traffic that most of us dread. While individual drivers may get to cruise along on freeways with limited stops and few interactions with pedestrians and bicycles, those crash risk factors are the very heart of transit operations.

It takes a good attitude and careful attention to drive safely in those conditions.
Carl credits his accident-free record with consistency: “You do the right thing over and over again.” When he does make a driving mistake, he consciously thinks through what he should have done so he doesn’t make the mistake again. He also forgives other drivers their mistakes. “I never get angry,” he says.

Diane said she never takes for granted that she’s driving a bus and should therefore be visible to other drivers. “I call it the ‘Stealth Bus,’ ” she said of all the times she’s almost been hit. Like Carl, she prefers to laugh rather than get mad when other drivers do crazy things.
“I get from Point A to Point B and that’s what matters,” she said.

Community Transit has 68 active employees who are Million Mile Drivers, including six Two Million Mile Drivers.

Q: How old do you have to be to be a Community Transit bus driver?
A: Driver must have 5 years of safe driving in the United States. This means drivers are at least 21 when they are hired.
Q: How much training do bus drivers get?
A: Community Transit provides a training program that is nearly nine weeks long to all new coach operators, no matter what other driving experience they may have. Many Community Transit drivers have started their careers driving trucks, school buses or military vehicles.
In addition to safe driving and bus handling, Community Transit training includes customer service and learning the bus routes throughout Snohomish County.

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