Durham School Services’ newest hires for Madisonville CISD were trained in a bus driving simulation on Friday to ensure that their required skills were up to par.
“The main thing we want to do is make sure that we have good and safe drivers in the community,” said Safety Training Specialist Larry Thornton of the Region 6 Education Center, who oversaw each simulation. “My travels take me all over the state of Texas and I have to compliment Madisonville. Without any reservations, I can say right now that this is one of the better school districts that I’ve visited.”
Thornton is responsible for similar training in five different regions across the state. Along with Region 6, he represented the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT). TxDOT sponsors the simulation program that is free to the district. In the private community, they charge $1,800 per day plus expenses.
“This is the most up to date training of its kind available in the Unites States right now,” said Thornton. “The people who work on this also work with the military.”
The machine, or the School Bus Simulator, depicted the driver’s seat of a school bus and a screen that could change the courses a driver could practice on as well as the weather they have to do it in. During the simulation, the instructor can change the surroundings from clear to rain, sleet or snow with the press of a button.
The School Bus Simulator is a new unit and property of Region 6. It recently received $26,000 worth of updates.
The test consisted of 20 sections that the drivers were graded on during the simulation. Some sections were simple, such as making sure your seatbelt is fastened or that your hands were in the right position. Others were more complicated, such as executing certain turns or proper behavior in the presence of an animal or pedestrians. The drivers received a grade of Excellent, Average or Below Average for each specific section during their test.