Schoolbus driver performance can be improved with driver training, safety incentivisation, and vehicle roadworthy modifications
In South Africa (SA), the school transport industry provides millions of children with a means of travelling to and from school. The industry has, however, been reported to be plagued by widespread safety concerns. The consequent road traffic incidents have often been attributed to driver factors, including driving in excess of legal speeds or at inappropriate speeds; driving while under the influence of alcohol, while sleepy or fatigued; or driving without using protective equipment for vehicle occupants. There are currently very few SA interventions that specifically target this important industry role-player. The Safe Travel to School Programme was recently implemented by a national child safety agency, with a focus on driver road safety awareness, defensive driver training, eye-testing, vehicle roadworthy inspections with selected upgrades, incentives for safe performance, and implementation of a vehicle telematics tracking system with regular, individual driving behaviour information updates. This quasi-experimental study offers an evaluation of the initial impact on safety performance of this telematics-based driver and vehicle safety intervention in terms of speeding, acceleration, braking, cornering, and time-of-day driving, and compares the school transport driver performance with that of general motorists. Despite concerns that some school transport vehicles are used for multiple purposes outside of school transport duties, at night, and for longer distances, overall these vehicles recorded lower percentages of speeding, lower harsh braking, and lower average harsh cornering and acceleration than general drivers.