The Nebraska Safety Center received a $3.4 million grant to train transit drivers from transportation, bus and transit companies across Nebraska.
The grant, from the Nebraska Department of Roads, follows a three-year collaboration between the Nebraska Safety Center at the University of Nebraska at Kearney’s College of Business and Technology and Center for Public Affairs Research at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.
The partnership originated with a $639,329 grant in 2013. In the first three years, more than 2,400 drivers received training. The partnership has been extended through 2021. The grant total is $5.8 million, with UNK receiving $3.4 million.
The project, called Advance, aims to improve and increase transportation options across the state, especially in rural areas that lack convenient, efficient and affordable access to public transportation.
“We’re working to keep rural areas vibrant,” Nebraska Safety Center Executive Director Mick Anderson said. “Transportation has a big impact on rural economies. This program will help improve the quality of living and the economy in rural areas.”
The first of its kind in Nebraska, Advance offers training from experts in business, safety, technology, research and public policy.
The five-year grant is being used to train drivers in defensive driving; passenger awareness, safety and sensitivity; CPR and first aid; emergency procedures; distracted driving; and other areas.
The training, which is required of all transit drivers in the state, is offered at no charge to those receiving it. In addition to offering classes at the Safety Center headquarters and driving range in Kearney, courses will be taught by Safety Center personnel in Alliance, Beatrice, Broken Bow, Columbus, Grand Island, Lincoln, McCook, Norfolk, North Platte, Ogallala, Omaha, O’Neill, Red Cloud and Scottsbluff.
Advance also offers its Mobility Management Project, which combines scientific techniques such as GIS mapping, and economists’ tools such as cost-benefit analysis to coordinate trips of separate transportation agencies and save taxpayer dollars.
Additional new hands-on training at the Safety Center Driving Range will ensure that transportation drivers have expertise in passenger assistance.
To celebrate the partnership, the Nebraska Department of Roads, UNK and UNO will have an open house from 3-5:30 p.m. Feb. 1 at Nebraska Innovation Campus in Lincoln.
The Nebraska Safety Center’s mission is providing safety education and accident prevention in traffic, industrial, home, fire and recreational areas.