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Home / Blogs / Top Passenger Safety Tips for Bus and Coach Drivers

Top Passenger Safety Tips for Bus and Coach Drivers

Blogs, Driver CPC | 7th Jan 2022

Drivers of buses and coaches have a lot to remember when it comes to safety! Just like LGV drivers, PCV (Passenger Carrying Vehicle) drivers have responsibilities around staying safe on the road and looking after other road users and pedestrians. However, they also have a duty of care to those on board.

Driver CPC training is a great opportunity to give PCV drivers the knowledge and skills they need to work safely and effectively. That’s why members of the RTITB Driver CPC Consortium now have access to new modules which can be used specifically for Periodic Training with PCV drivers. New modules include:

  • Understanding the Roles & Responsibilities of a PCV Driver
  • Understanding the Driver & Customer Relationship
  • Looking Into the Future of Passenger Transport
  • Daily Duties that Prevent Vehicle Infringements
  • Improving Compliance with International Transport Duties

Alongside customer service, luggage handling and journeys with children, one of the important topics covered in the new Driver CPC training materials is Passenger Safety.  Read on to learn some top tips around this important area.

Is Passenger Safety Really a Big Problem?

While drivers are very safety conscious and accidents have decreased over the years, the most recent statistics provided by the Department for Transport (DfT), show that in 2019 there were 14 fatalities and 3085 casualties concerning bus and coach passengers.

Professional drivers have a duty of care to their passengers. So, whether out on the road, at a station/stop, or carrying out vehicle checks before a journey has commenced, there are lots of steps that a PCV driver can take to help keep their passengers safe.

  1. Clearly Understand Responsibilities

There are many different things that a driver should be made aware they are responsible for in order to keep passengers safe, including:

  • Ensuring that the vehicle is in a roadworthy condition
  • Taking appropriate measures in the event of an incident
  • Taking preventative measures to lessen the chance of incidents occurring
  • Ensuring that the vehicle is not overloaded
  • Driving sensibly; not taking risks
  • Delivering passengers to their destination safely
  • Ensuring that passengers have a comfortable journey
  • Planning ahead: being prepared for and knowing how to handle emergency situations that may arise
  • Reporting vehicle defects to management (don’t drive defective vehicles)
  • Allowing enough time for bad weather and traffic congestion
  • Staying calm when driving; avoiding situations that may lead to “road rage” or onboard arguments
  • Ensuring that the vehicle is equipped with all necessary first-aid and firefighting equipment
  1. Adopt Safe Driving Practices

A seemingly obvious way to keep passengers safe is to drive safely. However, drivers should understand how their driving style can affect a passenger’s safety. Driving smoothly is key, especially when transporting vulnerable passengers, and braking gently is particularly important for drivers whose vehicles do not have seatbelts, or where there are standing passengers on board.  Studies have found emergency braking to be a key cause of casualties in PCV accidents.

Good all-round observation, both of what’s happening in the vehicle and outside, will also go a long way to preventing road incidents and ultimately keeping passengers safe. For instance, drivers need to be aware of passengers entering and leaving the vehicle and take precautions accordingly.

  1. Know Seatbelt Policies and Legislation

The requirements of seatbelt usage by law vary. Legislation requires seatbelts are fitted to certain vehicles, but not others.  However, where seatbelts are fitted, usage is compulsory. That said, exactly what a driver needs to know will depend on the vehicle they drive (e.g., minibus, larger minibus, coach, bus), so they should be trained on the rules, and refreshed as they change, to ensure compliance.  There are also particular rules around children travelling.

If seatbelts are fitted and must be used, drivers must also advise passengers of this by way of signs, pictograms, or announcements. It is good practice for drivers to ensure that all passengers have their seat belt fastened at the beginning of every journey. However, policies on checking seatbelts vary between companies, so drivers must be kept up to date with the procedures set out by their employer.

Remember, regardless of whether seat belts are fitted, drivers should always ensure that passengers are seated before pulling away.

  1. Communicate Safety Information Clearly

Clear communication is key to supporting passenger safety. The type of journey and vehicle driven will dictate the information that should be communicated to the passengers. This could include signage for fire exits/extinguishers, glass-breaking tools, signage for no smoking, information for on board facilities, information on seat belts, signage for school buses, journey times or collection times.

During a vehicle walk-around inspection drivers should make sure that all signage is clean and in good condition. On top of this, sometimes drivers may need to give a safety information talk before the journey commences.  Drivers should always finish by asking if the passengers have any questions.

  1. On-Board Health and Safety

To comply with health and safety legislation, drivers have a responsibility for looking after themselves, their colleagues, and their passengers. That being the case, drivers should consider how aspects of their work, other than driving, might affect the safety of their passengers.  The following questions might help drivers:

  • Are walkways clear of any loose objects? (e.g., litter, forgotten belongings, etc.)
  • Is there any spillage that might cause a passenger to slip? Weather conditions are an important consideration for drivers.
  • Are markings on steps visible and clear?
  • Are the seats safe for use? (Is the seat damaged in any way?)
  • Are all emergency exits, buttons, window hammers working correctly?

Reduce Risk to Passenger Safety with Training

It’s clear that the impact on passengers’ safety extends far beyond just that of a driver’s skills on the road. Passenger safety can be a challenging responsibility for drivers, but with good vehicle preparation, communication and considerate driving style, the risk to passengers’ safety can be reduced, while also helping reduce a driver’s stress levels.

Driver CPC Periodic Training is an ideal opportunity to improve, refresh, or reconfirm bus and coach drivers’ knowledge and skills around passenger safety.

Or learn more about joining the RTITB Driver CPC Consortium now.