Earl “Dub” Gillum, senior trooper with the Texas Highway Patrol delivered the keynote address Saturday night at the TSD Conference. His presentation, sponsored by Q’Straint Sure-Lok was titled “Think” and focused on what drivers can do to “arrive alive” at their destination every day.
Gillum is the Safety Education and Public Information Officer for DPS as well as the Disaster and emergency management coordinator for eight counties and Comanche Peak Nuclear Power Plant.
“Welcome, my fellow sheepdogs!” he said as he began the speech, explaining that school bus drivers, just like police officers, are always on alert, much like a sheepdog.
“There are three types of people out there: sheep, wolves, sheepdogs,” he said “The sheepdog lives for moment it encounters the wolf. The sheepdog is always prepared to do what they do best. You bleed yellow, you transport our children. So you’re the sheepdogs, you’re the ones taking care of our babies.”
Gillum went on to direct the audience in an exercise that involved listing the most important people their lives in an index card. He then went on to ask who wrote their own names on the list. One or two people raised their hands.
He reminded school bus drivers of their importance in the lives of their families and the children they drive every day.
“You ladies and gentleman are vital to our babies. Without you, a lot of people will miss you. Our babies depend upon you. You are important,” he said, asking the audience to put their own names on the list as well.
Another exercise involved the audience closing their eyes for 10 seconds. Gillum reminded them that each time they take their eyes off the road for that long to look at a cell phone, for example, it is like “driving blind.”
The trooper also offered valuable safety tips drivers can use not only on the job driving the school bus, but also driving their own personal vehicles.
Some of the tips Gillum offered are:
- Look as far down the road as possible, adding that actual distance may vary due to traffic conditions and locations.
- Do not fixate just on what is directly in front of you while you drive. Scan your surroundings and check your mirrors often. “If you fixate on something for 3 seconds you get tunnel vision. Look at rear view mirror every 3-5 seconds,” he said.
- Leave yourself an “out,” or create enough space where you can get out if a dangerous situation develops around you.
“It usually takes two people to crash,” Gillum said. “If you’re driving defensively, you can avoid it.”