Buses, Minibuses and Coaches

Buses, Minibuses and Coaches

How Effective?

This section of the synthesis presents evidence to demonstrate how effective the various initiatives/measures can be at improving bus and coach driver safety.

As will be seen in the ‘Gaps in research’ section, while a wide variety of measures have been identified to address the different safety issues discussed in this synthesis, there is rather limited evidence available on how effective these measures are at reducing risk or improving safety.


The Health and Safety Executive lists a number of different measures that can be employed to prevent violence against bus drivers. Some of them aim to prevent the violence occurring while others help to protect the driver or improve the chances of the police catching the perpetrator.

  • First Leeds bus company have trialled a number of different measures to address violence towards bus drivers which have all proved effective to varying degrees. These measures include:
    • CCTV;
    • Assault shields;
    • Diffusion techniques and interpersonal skills training;
    • Attack alarms; and,
    • Smart Water systems.

(HSE, 2012)

While the measures listed above can be effective in reducing violence against staff, no statistics have been identified which provide evidence on how effective (reductions in numbers/severity of attacks) these measures are.

Fatigue Management

Fatigue is a significant problem for the commercial transport industry and reducing the impact it has on driver errors and RTIs is an ongoing issue.

  • Research proposes that an FRMS (Fatigue Risk Management System) offers the most comprehensive approach to managing fatigue risks.

(C. Fourie et al, 2010a)

  • Participants in a study to review FRMS (predominantly operators and regulators within the commercial transport industry) were enthusiastic about FRMS and the possibility that they could improve the management of fatigue. They provided some evidence that FRMS has improved safety, for example reduced accident rates, as well as other benefits, such as improved staff morale and reduced absenteeism.

(C. Fourie et al, 2010b)

Driver’s hours regulations are a well established method of reducing driver fatigue and RTIs. Approaches such as FRMS build upon these established methods with the aim of improving safety even further. However, as of yet, the effectiveness of these methods in relation to bus drivers does not appear to have been extensively researched or reported upon, resulting in a lack of evidence relating to the benefits they can potentially provide.


There are a host of different ways in which bus operators are attempting to reduce the health impacts experienced by their drivers. Some of these are presented in a report by MFL Occupational Health Centre:.

  • Research supports a number of measures to reduce work hazards for bus drivers. Measures include:
    • Reducing traffic congestion (bus lanes, signal priority);
    • Reducing passenger inquiries (automated information systems);
    • Enhancing driver security (alarm systems, emergency procedures);
    • Reducing social isolation on the job (schedule breaks in central locations);
    • Reducing fatigue and interference with personal life (improve work schedules);
    • Improving social aspects of work (supportive style of leadership); and,
    • Improving ergonomic design of buses (seat design, steering wheel design).

(MFL Occupational Health Centre, 1998)

These measures can be beneficial in reducing occupational health risks amongst bus and coach drivers, however, no statistics have been identified which provide evidence on their effectiveness.

Alcohol abuse

No evidence was identified that suggested drink driving was a significant problem amongstUKbus and coach drivers. However, if commercial passenger transport operators did decide to use them, Ignition Interlock Devices (IIDs) were found to be very effective at preventing drink driving and re-offending.

  • IIDs eliminate drink driving virtually to zero once installed, but the positive effect on re-offending usually disappears completely after the lock is removed from the vehicle.

  • Various assessments have shown that an alcohol interlock is more effective than driving licence suspension in preventing re-offending.

(ETSC, nd)

Speed limiting

Speed limiters can provide significant safety improvements when installed on large vehicles.

  • The RTI involvement rate for speed-limited lorries fell 26 per cent between 1993 (when mandated) and 2005.

(CTBSSP, 2008)

Gaps in the research

  • The majority of bus related information relates to passengers. There is relatively limited research focussing on drivers and the risks/issues that face them.

  • The fatigue management studies appear to be centred in the commercial transport industry which covers both buses and goods vehicles. Focusing this topic upon passenger transport would help to clarify the issues that bus and coach drivers face, as well as providing more data on the effectiveness of different measures to address them.

  • While various measures to mitigate violence and health issues amongst drivers have been covered by a number of reports, there appears to have been very little research into the actual effectiveness of these measures.

  • Studies into the reductions in RTIs achieved as a result of FRMS or driver time regulations may help to further develop these measures.

  • Whilst not a significant problem in Europe, alcohol and substance abuse is still seen as an important consideration given the number of passengers for which a driver is responsible. More research into this area in a UK context would be beneficial.

  • Date Added: 03 Apr 2012, 08:20 AM
  • Last Update: 30 Jan 2017, 02:31 PM