Buses, Minibuses and Coaches

Buses, Minibuses and Coaches


Bus and coach drivers can be exposed to a wide variety of risks during the course of their service. These can include:

  • Violence and abuse from passengers;
  • Fatigue caused by long working hours and high stress levels;
  • Conflicts with other traffic, including aggressive drivers;
  • Industrial injury;
  • Speeding/dangerous driving; and,
  • Substance abuse.

These risks will vary depending on the type of vehicle that is being driven; for example an urban bus driver may be more at risk of violence while a coach driver could be more susceptible to fatigue.

Where possible, these risks can and should be mitigated. Mitigation can take a variety of forms dependent on the risk but may include:

  • Fatigue Risk Management Systems;
  • CCTV and assault shields;
  • Ignition Interlock Devices; and,
  • Speed limiters.

The research suggests that a significant risk for drivers in the commercial transportation industry is that of fatigue. One study suggested that driver fatigue is a significant factor in approximately 20 per cent of commercial transport RTIs, but this research included goods, as well as passenger vehicles.

Fatigue may be more of a problem for coach drivers due to longer driving distances on motorways, but given the amount of distractions and high level of concentration needed by urban bus drivers, fatigue may also be an issue for this group. Fatigue can be effectively managed by a Fatigue Risk Management System (FRMS). This is a scientifically-based data-driven system which manages employee fatigue in a flexible manner appropriate to the level of risk exposure and the nature of the operation. FRMS can be used in addition to prescriptive hours of work limitations. The traditional method of mitigating driver fatigue has been to limit driver’s time at the wheel. This is a consideration that is incorporated into FRMS ensuring that the system includes traditional methods as well as newer more scientific approaches.

Violence is a very real threat to bus and coach drivers, particularly public transport drivers working on urban routes. Training, physical deterrents (such as assault shields) and CCTV can all help to reduce the risk to drivers and assist in capturing perpetrators. Reducing the causes of passenger frustration can also reduce assaults and conflict. The most common causes of conflict are fares and late running buses; the anger in relation to these can be reduced by good information.

Substance abuse appears to be an uncommon problem amongst bus and coach drivers. However, given the large number of passengers that they transport, this behaviour would have a much more significant risk on public/passenger health. Ignition Interlock Devices seem to be one effective way of preventing drink-driving in the commercial transport industry. These prevent the engine from being started until the driver has successfully passed a breathalyser test.

The large mass of the vehicles and the number of passengers they transport means that buses and coaches can cause significant damage and injury if they are involved in collisions. Speed control of buses and lorries is therefore a vital aspect of road safety.

Speed limiters have been proven to significantly (by 26 per cent) reduce the involvement of HGVs in RTIs. All new buses and coaches, as well as larger, older buses and coaches in the UK, are now required to have speed limiters installed. Therefore, this should mitigate the speed related risks associated with driving buses and coaches.

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