The yellow school bus has always been a part of Lydell Banks’ life. He grew up in the student transportation industry. His dad has been a school bus owner-operator for more than 35 years. Lydell is now forging his own path as a safety manager who assists First Student locations in Louisiana and Mississippi. “I love safety and I love transportation,” says Lydell. “It’s always been a part of my life, and I can’t imagine doing anything else.”
Combining Two Passions
Lydell joined our team as a driver in 2006. At the time, he was working toward earning his master’s degree in music performance from Loyola University in New Orleans. Lydell is a classically trained pianist who began playing the piano at the age of 5. He also has an undergraduate degree in music education, which he relied on when he was promoted to Location Safety Manager. His responsibilities included training drivers. “I quickly learned that I could combine two of my passions,” shares Lydell. “I could save lives and educate people.” In his role, he works to help ensure we provide students with the safest ride to and from school.
Over the years, Lydell has developed a number of First Student safety initiatives. He has also identified areas to improve training. Lydell is especially proud of a program he implemented in New Orleans in 2010. “Operation Fixed Object” was designed to help drivers better use their bus mirrors and reference points. The location saw impressive results, reducing the number of fixed object collisions by 19% over the previous year. “We made the environment safer,” says Lydell. “I learned that if you put the effort and energy in, you get results. It motivated me to do more.”
When it comes to safety, Lydell takes a proactive and hands-on approach. He feels that being a driver made him a better Safety Manager. “I am definitely more empathetic,” says Lydell. “I can really see things from our drivers’ perspective and relate to what they do.” He draws on that experience when he is developing and implementing safety programs. Lydell has also worked to educate the community about school bus safety. He has written letters that have appeared in several newspapers in his community. By targeting everyone involved in the process, Lydell has helped to build a culture of safety.
Rising Star of Safety
The National Safety Council (NSC) named Lydell a “Rising Star of Safety” in 2010. The NSC is a leading safety advocacy group. Lydell was one of 40 safety professionals under the age of 40 to be recognized for his work. He is an active member of the NSC, and currently serves as chairman of the organization’s Young Professionals Division. “As baby boomers continue to retire, it is important that we help move safety forward and grow our profession,” believes Lydell. He also recognizes the importance of engaging with other companies to develop and share best practices.
Out in Front
Lydell has dedicated his professional life to improving the safety of our drivers and the students we transport every day. “First Student is the industry leader,” says Lydell. “We are visionaries who are out in front, and I am proud to be a part of it.” His commitment to safety and creative training initiatives have improved our safety performance and further engaged locations with our core value.