One In 20 London Bus Drivers Crashed Due To Fatigue

29 August 2019, 15:31 | Updated: 29 August 2019, 15:35

17% of London bus drivers have fallen asleep at least once whilst driving.
17% of London bus drivers have fallen asleep at least once whilst driving. Picture: PA

A new study highlights the consequences of driver exhaustion, as unions call for shorter shifts and proper breaks for London bus drivers to minimise the risk of accidents.

The report found that 21% of bus drivers had to ‘fight sleepiness’ at least two or three times a week.

36% had a ‘close call’ due to fatigue in the last 12 months and 17% had actually fallen asleep at least once while driving.

5% had been involved in at least one accident in the last year due to fatigue.

Unite the union, who called for the Loughborough University study to be carried out, said:

"A combination of workers undertaking excessive hours due to inadequate levels of pay, a lack of recovery time between poorly scheduled shifts and overly long shifts without sufficient rest breaks are all major factors in causing fatigue."

The union organised a demonstration this morning following the findings of the study. They are demanding fairer rotas, proper breaks, shorter shifts, decent facilities and better pay.

Under current UK bus driving rules, provided the bus route is less than 50km, workers can drive a bus for a total of 10 hours a day with an unbroken five and half hour stretch behind the wheel, before getting a 30 minute break.

The nature of the job also limits the degree of control that drivers have over the timing of breaks, their sleeping patterns, diet and opportunity to exercise, which can further exacerbate the risk of fatigue-related problems.

A report found that 36% had a “close call” on the roads due to tiredness in the same period.
A report found that 36% had a “close call” on the roads due to tiredness in the same period. Picture: PA

In response to the report, TfL has made a commitment to provide £500,000 of funding for bus operators to put forward new ways to tackle fatigue from 2020.

There is a new starter minimum wage of £23,000 for drivers and a £6m programme to provide permanent toilets for drivers is being rolled out on bus routes.

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