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28 October 2014
Inside Out: Surprising Stories, Familiar Places

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   Inside Out - East: Monday 4 November, 2002

ON THE BUSES

Learner bus driver
Driving a bus is not a stress-free job

"You wait for over half an hour and then two come along at once."

"Live for today because you might be hit by one tomorrow."

Buses are often the butt of jokes but manoeuvring a 35 foot bus full of impatient passengers in Luton’s rush hour is definitely no joke, as Inside Out finds out.

Safety first

"If bus companies want drivers that can cope with stress and are also safe then they are going to have to get really selective about who they put behind the wheel. And that’s exactly what they are doing."
Big George

With congested roads, irate passengers and tight deadlines to meet, it’s not an easy job being a bus driver, as one driver reveals.

"You can’t break in a bus like you do in a car otherwise you’ve got broken legs and broken limbs. Motorists aren’t aware of that," says a Luton bus driver.

The Arriva bus garage in Luton is one of the largest in Britain. The company has nearly 7,000 buses and 14,000 bus drivers.

Front of a bus
Arriva has over 80,000 bus drivers across the country

With such a large fleet, Arriva in Luton say they believe they've found a way to make their drivers and passengers among the safest in the world.

Inside Out has been granted exclusive access to the very latest training technology used by Arriva.

Practice makes perfect

One element of this training is a simulator, very similar to that used by aircraft pilots. It is the only one of its kind in Europe.The programme, including the simulator, was developed by Lisa Dorn from Cranfield University in Bedford.

Driver in a simulator
The simulator allows practice in a safe environment

The programme is made up of simulator practice, psychometric testing and physical training to ensure a healthy, stress-free body and mind, a world away from the traditional teaching which involved high speed bus driving!

The simulator recreates various problem scenarios; children running out into the road, windy roads, heavy traffic. The bus drivers practice in the mock-up cab complete with wing mirrors. Trainee drivers are marked on their success.

Psychometric tests are used in the recruitment process. It is similar to a questionnaire. Bus drivers answer questions about their skills and how they cope in particular stressful situations. The tests analyse whether the applicant has a suitable temperament to drive a bus.

The drivers fitness levels are also measured - healthy body, healthy mind, lower stress levels.

"If they’re treating bus drivers in the same way they’re treating jet airline pilots, then it’s got to be a good thing for road transport all round."
Big George

The programme ensures that new bus drivers are well equipped to deal with the stresses of life behind a wheel, which leads to safer buses, safer passengers and safer roads for all.

So next time you're stuck behind a bus with your stress levels rising, think calm, happy thoughts, after all, it could be worse, you could be driving it!

See also ...

On the rest of the web
Arriva
UK public transport
Learning to drive
International Transport Federation

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