Training for safe results: André Justino helps boost operations and driver morale

Training for safe results: André Justino helps boost operations and driver morale

Driver safety training makes streets safer and empowers transport operators

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On June 8, 2014, André Justino found himself driving Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and Marcio Lacerda, Mayor of his native Belo Horizonte, on a tour of the city’s new MOVE bus rapid transit (BRT) system. His journey to the honor officially began fourteen years ago, by starting to work for Cidade BH—one of the bus companies operating MOVE—as an intern. But André’s passion for driving has been a lifelong pursuit.

“When I was 5 years old and got on a bus for the first time, I was amazed. After having worked in other fields, I found what I really like: driving—transporting people. The best part of my work is interacting with people. Our customers, our passengers, become like family members.”

Today, André is a Monitor Driver for Cidade BH and one of the company’s leading driving instructors.

André was recently chosen to participate in a road safety training developed by EMBARQ Brasil, the Transportation and Traffic Agency of Belo Horizonte (BHTrans), and FedEx Corporation as part of the EMBARQ-FedEx Mobility and Accessibility Program (MAP). Like the other 114 participants, he is now responsible for training other drivers that work for his company.

While Cidade BH already had standard training programs in place for its drivers that covered topics like defensive driving, economics, legislation, and care for groups with special needs, including the elderly, André says the biggest assets he gained from the MAP training were audiovisual materials focused on safety.

“When I give the training to my colleagues, I primarily highlight safety. I use a lot of the materials given to us in the EMBARQ and FedEx course, especially the videos. Speaking as an instructor in Belo Horizonte, we had such a lack of teaching materials related to public transport before. Now, our drivers are absorbing the safety training better because they’re able to visualize and anticipate situations they are likely to encounter in their daily work. This has helped a lot.”

André was also impressed by the MAP training’s emphasis on the importance of sharing the road with all users—including pedestrians and cyclists. “We must respect the space of others,” he says, and not let traffic turn into a “war for space.”

André passes this lesson on to the drivers he trains for Cidade BH—about 40 so far, who together operate 15 MOVE vehicles—and he believes their work performance is the better for it. By putting themselves in the shoes of the weakest position on the road, those of the pedestrian, drivers internalize the fact that their consideration and responsibility for the safety of others determines the success of the system.

“Too often, drivers only pay attention to safety after a tragedy. We anticipate those situations before they occur through this training—showing what can happen so drivers know before they encounter bad situations. This training values life—both drivers’ lives and the lives of others.”

And the benefits of stronger safety training don’t just improve bus operations.

“The importance of having courses like this is much broader than we realize. After just four hours in the classroom you can see that drivers leave feeling more valued—it’s reflected even in their personal lives. We see that it decreases stress. We see that drivers are more motivated and committed. Their attitudes improve."

As a result, André reports that passengers and the general public are beginning to see drivers in a more positive light—a factor arguably just as important for the success of a BRT as the more traditionally acknowledged improvements in design, technology, time efficiency, and passenger capacity.

MOVE is expected to carry 700,000 passengers in Belo Horizonte every day once fully operational. Thanks to dedicated trainers like André, it’s good to know that more safe drivers than ever before will be behind the wheel.