Family Pride in Every Ride
Kobussen bus drivers use FVTC’s Decision Driving course to make safety a priority.
Kobussen Buses, Ltd.
’s operation consists of service to 11 school districts with a fleet of 428 buses that transports 36,000 students, in addition to the company’s line of transit services and excursions. “We live our company motto of ‘Family Pride in Every Ride’ with a safety record of excellence every day,” states co-owner Dan Kobussen. “That’s why all of our drivers take the Decision Driving course that Fox Valley Technical College designed specifically for our company.”
The course includes both time behind the wheel and an in-classroom session. “The behind-the-wheel part of the program starts on the skid pad, which simulates a slick driving surface that gives you experience in pre-accident conditions,” explains Joe Kobussen. “In one exercise, you start by going around in a circle, increasing your speed until the bus starts sliding. In another, you drive straight ahead to test your reaction time. There’s also one in which they hit the brakes and you have to pull out of the skid and re-gain control.”
“On the skid pad, you quickly learn that there are many aspects of driving that you’re unaware of,” says Brad Plamann, an FVTC driving instructor. “And, it definitely shows the limitations of your equipment. I’ve heard many students report that what they learned through skid pad training could have prevented catastrophes on the road.”
For the Kobussens, the program has been very effective at reducing not just the number of accidents, but also the severity of accidents. “My brother and I have both been through the course and believe every driver should take it before getting a license,” says Joe Kobussen. “It’s not required by law, but we insist on it because we firmly believe that it makes our employees better drivers.”
Kobussen driver Ralanna Zimmer heartily agrees. “Every student who takes driver education should take this course,” she states. “It changes the way you drive. You’re suddenly very aware of road conditions and pay more attention to all the cars around you. Everything I learned in the course I apply every time I get behind the wheel—even in my own car.”
“The instructors at Fox Valley Tech work hard to improve safety,” states Dan Kobussen. “It’s known as the best transportation college in the Midwest.
We also work with them in a customer service program for our motor coach drivers, as well as the safety program for the bus drivers. For us, they’re right here and they make it easy.”
The Best Training in Transportation
“We offer something in transportation for virtually everyone in our region,” states FVTC Driving Instructor Brad Plamann. “The college trains people in the Decision Driving course and those who want to become professional truck drivers, and more. In addition to working with companies like Kobussen, we work closely with the Wisconsin DMV in training all of the CDL examiners in the state. The Wisconsin State Patrol even uses our facility.”
The FVTC staff in this field works together to provide both on-site and on-the-road training. “Our whole skid pad area and driving range encompasses about five acres, plus we have a three-quarter mile road around a pond that adjoins college property,” notes Plamann. “Once they get the basics here, we also work with students out on the road.”
In addition to its training space, FVTC’s J. J. Keller Transportation Center also houses a lot of state-of-the-art equipment. “Our program is nationally recognized,” adds Plamann. “We are experiencing demand for our training services like never before, making our scheduling process a challenge. Everything we do is geared toward making the roads safer, so we must find ways to continue to address transportation safety and efficiency.”