BETTER DRIVERS: According to a study, school taxi drivers perform better behind the wheel than regular drivers. Image: iStock
Cape Town - School transport drivers perform better than regular road users, reports the South African Medical Journal (SAMJ).
The SAMJ reports that a national child safety agency (Childsafe) in 2014 implemented the Safe Travel to School Programme in partnership with Discovery, with the overall objective of improving safer mini-bus taxi transport for children.
'School transport drivers perform better'
The SAMJ said: "The results of the first evaluation of the programme are promising. School transport drivers appear to perform relatively better than general motorists with regard to key driving performance indicators (speeding, acceleration, braking and cornering) for the particular review period."
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In SA, widespread passenger casualties, many involving young passengers, are attributed to combinations of infrastructure problems, poor transport systems, unroadworthy school transport vehicles (i.e. school buses and minibuses), and unpredictable driver behaviour claims the organisation, reports the SAMJ.
The SAMJ said: "The South African minibus industry has emerged as a major public transport role-player and a significant component of school transport. This is especially true for learners from under-resourced communities, who may reside far from schools and consequently have to travel great distances to access their education. Despite the reliance of learners on minibus transportation, the industry has often been criticised for using substandard vehicles, for overloading, and for high-risk driving behaviour, such as speeding."
The SAMJ research on school transport drivers’ knowledge, attitudes and behaviours towards road safety is quite limited.
The organisation said: "General driver research indicates that only 8% of them were found to have sufficient knowledge to drive cars, suggesting improvements to the quality of driver training courses."
The SAMJ continued: "In terms of driver attitude, factors such as drunk driving, compliance with traffic rules, driving a technically unacceptable vehicle, driving experience, and use of seat belts have a significant impact on incidents and injuries."
When comparing the programme drivers with the insurance company policy holder drivers from September 2014 to January 2015, the SAMJ found that the programme drivers performed significantly better on the percentage of time at which their speed exceeded the speed limit by 10%.
The SAMJ said: "With the exception of January 2015 (a vacation period) travel, the programme drivers were found to speed less often (Fig. 2) than the policy holder drivers. As speed is positively correlated with unsafe driving behaviours, the reduced speed for programme drivers could be argued to translate into safer driving behaviours compared with the comparison group."
Read the full article on Arrive Alive: Study on schoolbus drivers and benefits of safety incentivisation
How it works
The programme aimed to stimulate better driver safety performance and compliance with road safety practices through greater road safety awareness, defensive driver training, eye-testing, vehicle roadworthy inspections, vehicle telematics tracking system with regular, individual driving behaviour information updates.