Using a Simulator to Train School Bus Drivers

Written By: LaJuan Bobo - February 28th, 2020

A simulator available at no cost to school districts located northeast of Houston, TX, is supplementing school bus safety training efforts.

Funded by a $100,000 annual grant from the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), the simulator replicates the driving component of a typical school bus. It includes front and side monitors that provide the driver with a view of traffic, similar to a video game.  The simulator is programmed with computer-generated imagery, or CGI, scenarios that prepare drivers for anything from a turtle crossing the road to extremely hazardous driving conditions.

“Without this training, there are some driving conditions that we can’t show a driver unless they’re actually happening,” said Josh Rice, director of transportation for Klein ISD.

Rice requested Education Services Center Region 6, which has operated the simulator for local school districts since 2010, to bring the simulator to the district for driver training.

“Of course, I was more than happy to agree,” recalled Larry Thornton, a safety training specialist with Region 6. “It’s a win-win for Klein ISD because the drivers are receiving safe, interactive training in a state-of-the-art unit for free—the state is picking up the bill.”

Region transported the simulator in a 38-foot trailer for the training, which was held the week of Feb. 10.

Without the TxDOT grant, the training would cost $1,800 a day to operate and cover related expenses, said Klein ISD in a statement. Rice said it would cost the district about $100,000 to purchase its own driver simulator, complete with computer, video screens and the driver compartment.


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