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A drivers guide to driving in the UK
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Bus Driver Safety

Safety for bus drivers and Bus passengers and an explanation on the key risks from Physical violence to abusive language.

Key Risks
Passenger Safety

Key risks

• Carrying cash – this risks theft.
• Road rage incidents.
• Angry passengers. There is a higher risk in the afternoon and early evening when passengers are returning from work, particularly if they have had a long wait for a bus.
• Certain locations or bus termini are particularly at risk from vandals.
• Youths and anti-social behaviour.
• Drunk passengers and drug users.
Examples of incidents
Robberies: during robberies drivers have been threatened with knives, air guns, even samurai swords.
• Fireworks: recently, as a driver was getting into his cab a firework was thrown on to the bus. The driver managed to get out of the cab in time but the force of the explosion damaged the cab, shattering both front windscreens and damaging the assault screen.
• Firearms: in one incident, a shotgun was fired at the windscreen of the bus.
• Vile behaviour: youths urinated down the periscope through which the driver sees the top deck of the bus. The driver left his cab to talk to the youths and was attacked by them.

The consequences of violence

• Physical injury.
• Stress and fear which have a cumulative effect on health.
• Lost time and production because of sickness absence.
• Demoralisation and staff losses.
• A negative effect on recruitment because people are put off when they hear about the problems.
• Financial loss through compensation claims – although this is mitigated by a company-specific sick pay scheme.
• Successful measures
• Training and information
• Specific training: all drivers receive one day of health and safety training as part of their induction. • Some of the course modules deal specifically with violence and aggression. Drivers learn key techniques and messages, as follows:

Defusion techniques and interpersonal skills:

• The importance of self-control.
• Non-aggression towards customers.
• Assertive communication.
• Acknowledging customer concerns and what they say
• Using humour to defuse a situation.

When carrying cash:

• Don’t carry it in an obvious cash bag.
• While driving, do not tell other drivers how much you have taken; people might be listening.
• When depositing money, use well-lit streets; don’t take short cuts.

Liaison with police

Reporting incidents: Incidents are categorised by type. Categories include assaults due to robbery or fare dispute; assaults involving motorists; and assaults involving spitting, vandalism and missile throwing.

Work environment and equipment

• Attack alarms can be fitted on buses: pressing a button in the driver’s cab activates the alarm and a synthesised voice says, ‘This vehicle is under attack: dial 999’. The loud speaker in the cab points towards the door, so it is loud and frightening to a potential assailant.

• Assault screens: these are fitted in all new buses to separate the driver from the public. Assault screens are see-through barriers which normally cover the area from the left of the driver to the ticket machine. They prevent ‘random’ punches from the public and are effective if the driver sits back as far as possible in the cab. Assailants are at the limit of their reach when trying to hit the driver and are forced to use their left hand, normally the weaker. Both these factors reduce the power of a punch.

• Digital CCTV: very small digital cameras can be fitted in buses. They constantly record on a 24-hour cycle and replace tape-based cameras which were sometimes unreliable. The cameras are useful in the event of prosecution.

Bus Passanger Safety

Buses are a great way of getting around but there are certain steps you should take to ensure your safety while travelling, particularly if you are travelling at night or on your own.

Personal security

When travelling alone:

• Keep an eye on your bags
• Do not put your wallet in your back pocket
• If you are a visitor to the area, try to keep your camera and map out of sight as much as possible

If you are travelling late at night:

• Check timetables to limit your waiting time
• Keep looking around you to make yourself less of a target for thieves
• Stay in well lit areas in and around bus stops and stations
• Arrange to be met from the bus if possible

Mobile phone safety

Take a few simple precautions to avoid having your mobile phone stolen. You can also make your phone difficult to use if it is stolen:

• Avoid talking on your mobile while walking
• Before taking out your mobile, check to see who is around and position yourself in a way that will make it difficult for thieves to approach you
• Try to be where a CCTV can see you
record the details of your mobile (its reference number and PIN)
• Always use the keypad lock function
• Register your mobile with the service provider
• Report a theft to the police and to your mobile service provider as soon as possible

Dealing with bus crime

Bus crime can range from assaults and anti-social behaviour to vandalism and other problems, such as the behaviour of schoolchildren on school buses.

The bus industry, along with the Department for Transport, is helping to tackle such crime, not only by fitting CCTV cameras, alarms and protective screens around drivers, but also by training staff to deal effectively with any incidents.

Although crime against passengers is rare on buses, if you do experience or witness such a crime you should contact the police. In an emergency call 999.

Find your local police station Opens new window Accidents involving buses/coaches
The police are responsible for investigating all road traffic accidents.

If the police report that a collision may have been caused by a defect resulting from lack of maintenance, then the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency’s (VOSA) Vehicle Safety Branch can investigate the incident.

If the collision is discovered to have been caused by a design or construction fault then VOSA will instruct the manufacturer to carry out a Safety Recall.

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