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Survey: Bus drivers use their mobile while driving

A survey among 689 bus drivers indicates that drivers' mobile use is a growing problem.

There are researchers at the Transport Economics Institute (TØI) who have been asked by a bus company to look into this problem in more detail.

More and more customers are complaining that bus drivers use their mobile phones while driving.

Follows on notifications

In a survey conducted by the researchers, almost 1 in 5 bus drivers respond that they use mobile while driving. They do this even if it is contrary to the bus company’s rules.

Mobile use is largely sporadic, if we are to believe the answers in the survey. Drivers who themselves confirm that they use the mobile phone while driving, respond that it happens less than once a week. 3 per cent of the bus drivers stated that they used mobile every day while driving.

But when the bus drivers were asked what they think about colleagues’ mobile use, they assumed that one of two used mobile phones at least once during a week.

It goes without saying that many drivers who do not actively use the mobile while driving, confirm that they are following on SMS and facebook notifications they receive on the phone screen.

Depending on social media

There are two TØI researchers Siri Hegna Berge and Ross Owen Phillips who are behind the study. In addition to the survey, the researchers have interviewed drivers and managers in bus companies.

– When so many bus drivers follow on notifications on the mobile, the reason may be that, like many others in society, they have become dependent on regular use of the mobile and to keep up with social media, says Ross Owen Phillips to forskning.no.

Conflicting requirements

Although the bus companies do not want the drivers to use the mobile phone while driving, the bus companies themselves have received systems that encourage mobile use in the service. During the work, the bus driver may therefore have to contact the operating center or its traffic controller.

The bus companies put a lot of emphasis on punctuality. But both in rush hour traffic and otherwise, events can occur where the bus driver is faced with conflicting requirements.

– The driver may choose to make further delays by standing still to use mobile and maintaining security, or driving to meet the punctuality requirement and to avoid delaying the bus company. Using mobile during the run can then appear as a solution to a difficult situation, says Phillips.

Uses handsfree

At the same time, previous research has shown that much of the mobile use among professional drivers is due to the need to communicate with family and colleagues. This study also confirms that much of the mobile contact bus drivers have with others, is with their family.

New hands-free technology has made it easier for bus drivers to talk to colleagues and others on the mobile while driving the bus. The drivers also do not think that talking on a hands-free mobile while driving increases the likelihood of a traffic accident.

Those bus drivers who say they use mobile while driving have less faith than others that they will be reported for this and that it may have consequences for them.

The researchers believe that the inconsistent treatment of mobile use that many drivers experience with the bus companies, helps to increase the likelihood that they are using their mobile phones while driving.

To reduce mobile use during bus driving, researchers suggest clearer and more consistent rules from bus companies. They also propose to involve the bus drivers themselves in their efforts to reduce mobile use.

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