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Immersive De-Escalation Training for Transit Drivers

Immersive De-Escalation Training for Transit Drivers

For transit drivers, transporting passengers involves more risk than navigating traffic jams or lousy weather. Data from the FTA National Transit Database reveal that “major” assaults on transit workers (i.e., those resulting in death or requiring medical transport) tripled between 2008 and 2022. In addition, operators face the risk of myriad “non-major” assaults—including being robbed, having things thrown at them, being doused with urine or hot beverages, and being threatened at gunpoint.

Even though these assaults might not result in death or necessitate medical attention, rational people can probably agree that these are unacceptable risks for bus drivers—and their passengers. To protect the safety of transit drivers and the public, transit agencies are increasingly looking for better ways to mitigate these risks.

In 2018, the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine issued a two-part report titled “Tools and Strategies for Eliminating Assaults Against Transit Operators,” including a research overview and a user guide. According to the reports, the risk of assault—besides obvious safety concerns—contributes to major problems such as driver absenteeism, decreased productivity, and increased levels of stress and fear for both drivers and passengers.

The report notes that transit agencies nationwide vary widely in policy, practice, and procedures. De-escalation prevention, mitigation, and incident response are inconsistently implemented and enforced, even if written policies are in place. Perhaps most important is the widespread gaps in de-escalation training: Drivers are trained in vehicle operation but often fly blind when protecting themselves and their passengers from attacks.

Using Transit Response Situational Simulator Training to Practice De-Escalation Skills

An effective response demands exposure to realistic situations in advance. FAAC’s Transit Response Situational Simulator Training system was specifically designed to help prepare drivers for such low-frequency/high-impact situations.  Transit Response engages trainees in immersive, engaging scenarios to improve drivers’ cognitive and technical skills under real-time pressures. Each training scenario is filmed purposefully, challenging trainees to recall and follow specific policies on the spot. Throughout each scenario, the operator manages situations from the driver’s seat—just as they’d have to do while on the job. Each defined training objective can be assessed with instant feedback, encouraging drivers to practice communication in the context of emergency response.

FAAC’s Transit Response Situational Simulator Training program effectively prepares transit operators to de-escalate dangerous situations. It can be added to many of FAAC’s existing transit simulators with minimal hardware or included in any new simulator before delivery.

With this comprehensive training solution, operators learn skills that help them identify and effectively manage volatile interactions, practice emergency response procedures, and handle their vehicles safely. Transit Response simulation prepares drivers to face unexpected events confidently. Because the Transit Response simulator is consistent, repeatable, and low-risk, it helps ensure that agencies’ written policies are consistently taught and incorporated into daily practice.

Empower Your Transit Operators to Handle the Unexpected

Nothing fully prepares operators for what they will do during a route than placing them in those situations during training. FAAC’s simulators can combine driving and customer response in a single training session, giving the operator a much more realistic experience related to their duties. Want to learn more about how Transit Response is already preparing transit workers to be more competent and confident on the job? Contact us today to learn more and discuss your options.