Focusing on the Talent Moving Your Communities

Peter-John Barclay

CUTA has long provided our members with tools for measuring the ability of potential operators to deliver top quality customer experience, reducing complaints, supervisor interventions, and indeed assaults. Many of our members use the STRADA system as a vital part of their recruiting process, as it gives additional insight into the potential operator’s mindset, and suitability for a high-stress environment where they will face diverse members of the public. 

DRIVEABLE offers an additional level of security to operators and the public, in addition to their behavioural aptitude for the role to the health and safety of our workforce and the security of those they serve. We are happy to highlight the work of this member organization that is delivering additional value to many of our existing STRADA member agencies.

Focusing on the talent moving your communities

Transit agencies, with the support of government, have been making a concerted effort to encourage the public to embrace transit systems as a viable and reliable commuting option. A key component to gaining this “public embrace” is establishing public trust. The trust that transit services will be on time and more importantly, that commuters and the communities through which they move will be safe.

It requires significant work to establish and maintain this trust and the harsh reality is that it can be lost in a moment.

To build this essential trust, the transit industry has constantly looked at ways to improve safety. Vehicle design, maintenance standards, GPS tracking and telematics have all been considered and adopted but limited attention has been directed towards proactively mitigating the risks associated with the driver.

The driver is the individual who carries the weight of responsibility for the commuters they transport and their ability to deal with this responsibility is based on their health and skill level.  Some may argue that a driver can be monitored by driving evaluation technologies like onboard cameras or telematics which have their place but when risks are identified or materialize the response is reactive. To proactively manage driver risk, the drivers’ “fitness” needs to be evaluated before they step into the vehicle.

The Canadian Council for Motor Transport Administrators provide guidelines to facilitate a consistent approach to driver fitness decision-making and they are based primarily on functional ability to drive. The functions necessary for safe driving include:

  • Cognitive
  • Motor (muscle/nerve acts)
  • Sensory (vision/hearing)


The motor and sensory functions are easier to understand as requirements for safe driving but often the importance of a healthy cognition is overlooked.

Cognition encompasses how a person understands the world and acts in it. It is the set of mental abilities that are part of every human action. Alertness, concentration, memory, multi-tasking, perception, reactions, thinking, judgment, and insight are examples of the cognitive skills that need to work together to carry out the complex task of driving and when impaired, could put the driver and the people they carry at risk. Cognitive impairment is not exclusive to people with dementia or Alzheimer’s. There is an increased risk of cognitive impairment as we age, but it is also not exclusive to the elderly. Depending on a fleet’s age demographic, approximately 6% of drivers experience cognitive impairment at any given time which could render them high-risk drivers. There are many factors that could affect a driver’s cognition, fatigue, sleep apnea, hypertension, diabetes, opioids or opiates to name a few.

The other side to identifying driver risk is evaluating driving skill. Typically, 83% of drivers within fleets demonstrate “bad habits” in context of best practice and this is expected as they develop routines. However, while this most of this behavior can be corrected by driver training at time intervals relevant to the severity, there are instances (approximately 5%) where the behavior is of such a high risk that remediation cannot be achieved by training alone and a medical screen should be performed.

Just as fleet vehicles require routine inspections and maintenance to ensure their safety and longevity, so too is a proactive culture of managing the drivers of those vehicles needed. The timing of this is based on risk appetite but it should be considered throughout their career as follows:

  • Ensuring quality/fitness when they are hired
  • Periodic evaluations to identify changes
  • Establishing readiness to return to work after a disability or extended sick leave
  • Evaluating potential reasons post incident or collision

DriveABLE have been at the forefront of science backed driving assessments for 18 years and have spent the last decade building solutions with transit agencies to proactively manage their driver risk. Embracing the power of cognitive science, DriveABLE have been able to empower decision makers with information to ensure that they can continually build commuter trust.

Edmonton Transit Service, have used DriveABLE for five years as part of their hiring protocol to help establish the quality of drivers entering their fleet and to improve candidate retention. In the last year they evaluated their entire fleet and were successfully able to identify the drivers who needed support to enable them to operate at their best.

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