May 19, 2017
On a recent three-hour driver training session, two of our newer employees were behind the wheel of the bright green bus as we drove a simulated tour route without guests on board. Nearly every one of our employees over the past 4 and a half years started their time working with us by learning the position of driver.
Not only did we slightly scare our partners into thinking they forgot a tour was coming, but our new employees also get the chance to understand exactly what they should be thinking about and the strategies they have behind each move they make.
“Drive slower than your Grampa would!” said Don Littlefield, General Manager of The Maine Brew Bus, as we entered the first ramp onto I-295.
Before joining The Maine Brew Bus full-time in February of 2016, Don worked as a supervisor for UPS. He has been able to draw on experiences from that large transportation company and bring methods and best practices in a training format to every driver that operates our tours.
On our training ride we discussed routes and parking, but a lot of the focus was on the details of safe driving that you wouldn’t normally think about. We talked about hazards, eye lead time, path of least resistance, and much more all focusing on the things that you wouldn’t need to think about unless you were driving one of our bright green buses.
Getting the bus in and out of tight spots to get our guests to such highly sought after local producers is our specialty. One key phrase that became sort of a mantra for us that day was “leave yourself an out”. Not only does this force the driver to always be thinking ahead, but it also ensures a constant level of understanding about what’s going on around you.
Being able to learn from someone with that much experience was greatly beneficial for everyone who joined us for the training session. Don knows just about everything from the best spots our bus can squeeze in downtown, to when and what makes heavier traffic on Forest Avenue.
For our drivers, always being aware of the next step is high on Don’s lists of important skills to learn. “Expect the unexpected” was referred to multiple times in terms of cars, pedestrians, and other hazards. “Back into the known, not the unknown” was mentioned as a key to preventing backing accidents, one of the leading types of accidents for buses.
Taking this important time to work with our drivers before they hit the road on tours is a key to maintaining a safe environment. And this training has paid off, 98.9% of our guests over the past two years report that they felt extremely or very safe during their tour with us.
This effort is one of the many things that goes on behind-the-scenes to keep our tours working like a well-oiled machine.
-Story and photos by Ellie Yahn