Did you know that the car is the means of transport that causes the most accidents? That’s why so many people prefer public transport. But even for public transport there are rules, responsibilities and advice: find out which ones, for drivers and passengers.
More than one study has shown that the car is one of the most dangerous means of transport, even though the record for fatalities per kilometre is held by the motorbike, the vehicle that is structurally the most vulnerable due to the fact that it rarely has the upper hand in a collision with something larger. The car is potentially more dangerous than a public transport vehicle because it has more freedom of movement, is more aerodynamic, can perform risky manoeuvres more easily and is driven by a higher percentage of private individuals than professional drivers, whereas driving public transport vehicles are employees who should first be properly trained to do the job.
In any case, even driving a public transport vehicle can involve dangers if done recklessly, as can travelling on it without observing the due rules of behaviour shared for the safety of drivers and passengers. Travelling by public transport has countless advantages, but it must be done responsibly!
Let’s look at the advantages first.
no parking problems;
no ZTL problems;
less traffic stress;
no worries about vehicle maintenance;
relatively little expense when comparing the cost of the ticket to petrol/highway tolls;
possibility to do other things on the way not being engaged in driving.
Therefore, travelling by public transport is an excellent alternative to using one’s own car, but even this type of mobility must be enjoyed and activated with the right prerequisites, which are, for the driver, appropriate training, and for the passenger, respect for the rules.
Driver’s side: whoever drives a vehicle used to transport people has a great responsibility, because while carrying out his task he must constantly guarantee the safety and security of his passengers (a bit like the ambulance driver who is responsible for and guarantor of his crew). For anyone working as a driver of public transport, protecting the safety of those on board is a specific duty. Part of this protection is guaranteed by the safety systems with which the vehicle is equipped, part is guaranteed by the application of safe driving. Because, even in this area of mobility, it is possible, indeed advisable, to apply the fundamentals of safe driving, to the benefit of the safety of those on board and, more broadly, of smoother and safer traffic for all road users.
It goes without saying that every driver, regardless of what he is transporting, whether goods, animals, people or nothing, simply himself, must maintain a high level of concentration and alertness at all times. However, it is also necessary for those who take responsibility for the safety of others to be even more cautious, to comply with the regulations in force, and to be in possession of all the requirements, licences and courses.
In public transport logistics, the importance of training is crucial. Safe driving in public transport starts with knowledge of and compliance with the applicable regulations, the Highway Code and driver responsibility.
The starting point is, as always, road safety, i.e. the application of shared and publicly adopted measures with the aim of preventing accidents and reducing the consequences of those that just cannot be avoided. The Code lends us a hand in this, regulating the correct behaviour on the road, in every detail, for each category of user, with a view to providing useful directives to safeguard one’s own health and that of others. Then, in addition to the code, there are other measures that everyone can take, because, as you know, a licence is not synonymous with safety, even though in a perfect world a licence would be enough to guarantee it.
In order to meet the shared need for safety on the road, there is professional training, which provides individuals and company employees with the technical and practical knowledge to be able to handle emergency situations while driving, avoid instinctive reactions and cope with unforeseen events correctly, and there is also, more broadly, the development and use of management systems.
Management systems and regional safety programmes
There are, for example, studies and programmes that aim to improve the safety of drivers and people on the ground on an integrated level, including regional ones, for drivers of both goods and passenger transport vehicles; we cite one as an example:
“The entire Programme is geared towards promoting safety, which must be ensured across the board for all modes of transport and travel, with particular attention to the most vulnerable population groups, including children, the elderly or persons with reduced mobility. […] To improve the safety of public transport; to reduce road accidents in line with EU objectives; […] We intend to further reduce the accident rates of public transport by rail and bus (which are already low today) through integrated policies that act in a coordinated manner on the infrastructural, technological and safety aspects of vehicles’.
Or, for corporate HGVs, but helping us to understand how safety could also be designed into public transport, a British study recorded that: “A targeted design of new interventions and an adequate surveillance system should then further improve the so-called ‘safety’, i.e. the safety during transport, as well as the safety and comfort of passengers when waiting,
interchange and access to services (‘security’) with actions in stations, at stops
access to vehicles, etc.’.
Among the measures highlighted as useful in this area are the separation of pedestrians and vehicles, because ‘a well-designed and managed site with attention to segregation between vehicles and people reduces the risk of accidents’, the use of appropriate signage to highlight crossings and barriers, and the reduction or elimination of manoeuvres considered risky i.e. reversing and reversing, since, for heavy goods vehicles, it has been measured that ‘about a quarter of all fatalities involving vehicles at work occur during reversing or reversing manoeuvres’, and ‘the most effective way to reduce accidents of this kind is to eliminate the need to make such manoeuvres, for example by using one-way traffic patterns’.
In any case, for the safe coexistence of large vehicles and people, it is a good idea to adopt measures such as making it easier for drivers to see pedestrians and pedestrian areas, installing acoustic or luminous manoeuvre markers on vehicles, or proximity devices to warn drivers of the presence of ‘obstacles’ in their path. Then take care of and maintain functional infrastructures in all road areas where people live together. Remember what we saw about night driving and the lack of infrastructure?
These are just a few examples. It is good to remember that road transport services are regulated in detail in each territorial area, so in Italy anyone transporting people must comply with state, regional, provincial and even municipal regulations, specific to each type of vehicle and the number of passengers that the vehicle is authorised to carry.
But how is safety implemented on public transport?
On-board safety systems
We know that in passenger cars, which are mostly used by private individuals, passive safety is ensured by wearing a seat belt correctly, even in the rear seats. Then, for children, the appropriate restraint devices such as child seats and booster seats depending on age and weight. The maximum number of persons a driver may transport with a B licence is nine, including the driver. Drivers of vehicles for transporting more than 9 persons, such as buses, require a category D or D+E or CQC driving licence and must be aware that the vehicle they are driving is equipped with safety systems such as seat belts, fire extinguishers, accommodations/adapters for wheelchairs for disabled passengers, a first-aid kit, and an emergency stop button for stopping the engine. In addition, the vehicle is fitted with a special sign indicating the number of seats, the number of people that can be transported for safety purposes and the number of people that the vehicle can transport standing up.
Slightly different rules apply to small minibuses for transporting a few people or school buses, often operated at municipal level, where standing passengers are not permitted for safety reasons.
Driver requirements and behaviour
The driver of a vehicle used to transport people must have a B licence and the CQC, i.e. the Driver Qualification Card (Legislative Decree 285 of 30 April 1992). He must know the Highway Code and elements of mechanics in order to be able to check the vehicle’s state of efficiency or intervene with minor repairs. Also to fulfil his responsibility for passenger safety, he must check that tyres, windscreen wipers, brakes and lights are in working order, and that everything on board is OK before starting to drive. He should also inform passengers of the obligation to wear seatbelts and check the route to be followed and the possession of tickets. We are publishing this fact sheet on the skills, responsibilities and knowledge of the bus driver because it is very comprehensive.
Description: The bus driver is the professional figure in charge of driving buses, transporting passengers and ensuring the safety of the journey and the cleanliness of the vehicle.
What he does: He receives the route to be taken with the timetable for each stop;
Studies the route to be travelled;
Carries out any operations connected with the journey (such as selling and checking tickets);
Steers the bus by safely picking up and setting down passengers at the various stops;
Adapts the driving style to the circumstances and the persons transported;
Ensures that passengers comply with safety regulations;
Gives information about the stops on the route;
Periodically checks the condition of the vehicle;
Reports any faults or malfunctions of the vehicle.
Knowledge of the Highway Code;
Knowledge of the roads he has to drive on;
Knowledge of passenger transport regulations;
Knowledge of the characteristics of the bus he/she drives;
Knowledge of the basic principles of automobile mechanics;
Ability to read maps and cartographies;
Ability to perform routine vehicle maintenance;
Ability to compile travel documents.
Soft skills: Customer/user orientation; Control ability.
Personal characteristics and aptitudes:
Training: In order to work as a bus driver, it is sufficient to have a secondary school leaving certificate, but it is also essential to hold, in addition to a driving licence (D or D-E), the Professional Driver’s Certificate of Qualification type KD (obtainable after the age of 21) issued by the Civil Motor Vehicle Authority, which is obtained by passing an oral exam taken at any driving school.
How and where he works: The bus driver carries out his profession, generally as an employee, for public and private transport companies operating in the urban, regional, national or international road network.
Variety of activities: Low.
Integration: Primarily works alone.
Degree of responsibility: Medium.
Degree of autonomy: Autonomy with respect to the content of the work, Low; Autonomy with respect to the modalities of execution, Medium; Autonomy with respect to the working time, Low.
Mobility and travel: Yes.
(From “Città dei mestieri di Milano e della Lombardia”)
The professional driver also takes care to protect not only the safety of passengers, which comes first, but also that of the vehicle, so as to ensure at the same time the safety of customers, the company vehicle, and all other vehicles sharing that stretch of road with him. Out of respect for himself and others, he must take care of his own psychophysical well-being by respecting the right rhythms of waking and resting, and not taking substances that are harmful or capable of altering his driving abilities. He must refrain from anything that may distract his attention from driving and absolutely avoid
use of the telephone;
video players to follow programmes or games while driving;
eating and smoking;
chatting with passengers except for service-related, and in any case brief, communications.
The correct behaviour while driving is related to the responsibility for the safety of the passengers transported, while also taking care of one’s own safety and that of the vehicle, in specific terms SAFETY (one’s own physical safety) and SECURITY (protection of passengers and company property). What can and cannot the passenger do?
We are all happy to benefit from the advantages of being able to use public transport that is functional, regularly timetabled, clean and safe, punctual, without the worry of checking the itinerary and driving ourselves, without the thought of finding a parking space, and at the same time aware that we are doing a good deed to reduce environmental pollution. However, we must always bear in mind that as passengers we must abide by certain rules, for our own safety and for the well-being and civil coexistence of other travellers, as well as respect for the person who is working, driving the public transport.
First of all, let us remember that by getting on board we are tacitly accepting all the travel conditions, just as if we had signed a contract with the company or transport company. We therefore undertake by getting on board to respect all the rules, starting with the purchase and validation of the ticket.
All transport companies display on the inside of all the vehicles that make up the company fleet the rules to be observed in order to be allowed on board, in addition to these rules the passenger undertakes to behave in a proper and disciplined manner, namely to
follow the signs and use the correct doors for boarding and alighting;
not to push, obstruct or trample other passengers;
not listening to loud music
do not disturb other passengers with rude, aggressive or inappropriate behaviour;
do not photograph or film other people on board;
do not obstruct passage aisles with luggage or your body;
do not occupy more than one seat; do not eat; do not smoke;
do not throw objects out of windows for any reason;
give up your seat to elderly persons or persons in difficulty or need;
never, under any circumstances, disturb the driver.
What happens if a public transport vehicle gets into an accident?
If there is a collision between two cars, which is not serious, and the conditions are met, a so-called CID (direct indemnity agreement) is filled out; depending on the case and the dynamics of the accident, as long as it does not go into criminal law, there will certainly be compensation for damages, to be paid by one or the other insurance company. But what if an accident occurs while we are on board a public vehicle? If we are on board a coach, tram, bus, metro, taxi, train, the passenger can claim damages even if the vehicle on which he or she was travelling is at fault: in other words, even if it is the driver of the public transport vehicle who is at fault in the road accident and not the other vehicle, the passenger who suffers bodily harm in that accident can claim compensation from the transport company, because during the journey he or she is the driver’s responsibility.
Serious driver training developed for the benefit of the professional working in this precise logistical field is an indispensable ally when it comes to driving on the road and ensuring the highest level of protection for one’s passengers. Curious about safe driving tips specific to public transport driving? We’ll talk about it soon! Until next time!