Queensland ramps up bus driver safety

Safety barriers will be mandatory in all new Queensland urban buses to protect drivers from unacceptable passenger behaviour following a review of driver safety in the state.

Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey says barriers will help to protect drivers from impolite behaviour, personal abuse, verbal aggression and physical violence.

“Safety of drivers is paramount, and mandatory driver barriers on new urban buses consolidates a best practice approach and supports improved safety standards across the fleet,” Mr Bailey said.

Ways to implement the mandate were discussed at a recent Bus Driver Safety Barriers Roundtable .

“It’s important that introducing this mandate still provides individual bus operators with the flexibility to implement a solution that is best suited to their network,” Mr Bailey said.

Bus operators will be required to undertake a comprehensive risk assessment to determine the most appropriate solution, including consulting with their workforce.

Training and education

In addition to the installation of driver barriers, an independent review of bus driver safety recognised that complementary measures, such as de-escalation training and incident reporting, are also important.

Last year, an online training program for Queensland bus drivers was developed and implemented, with the aim of reducing the incidence and intensity of passenger hostility.

“This course provides drivers with ways to help anticipate, handle and cope during and after incidents involving customers,” Mr Bailey said.

The bus driver de-escalation training program was developed by Griffith University, in collaboration with TransLink and the Queensland Bus Industry Council.  

Bus driver safety review

In September 2016, the Queensland Government initiated a review into bus driver safety when it saw an increase in violent incidents towards bus drivers, including verbal and physical aggression.

The Queensland Bus Driver Safety Review was released in August 2017 and recommended 20 initiatives aimed at improving safety for bus drivers.

The government’s five-point plan addresses physical safety, including $3.93m for protective barrier installation, best practice, education, high-risk areas and policy.

As part of the five-point safety package, the Queensland Bus Driver Safety Scheme made funding available to eligible operators to assist with the installation of driver safety barriers and anti-shatter window film in existing fleet vehicles operating on high-risk routes.

“With much of the Queensland urban fleet now fitted with a partial barrier, the recent review is an important step forward in the continuing efforts to ensure the safety of drivers, passengers and other frontline staff on the public transport network,” Mr Bailey said. 

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