The Behavioural Risk Factors Associated with Bus and Coach Driving

This post introduces each of the 12 Bus Driver Risk Index™ (DriverMetrics® research based risk assessment) factors in turn, giving an overall summary description including any implications for driver safety. The findings from the Cranfield University research programme were used to write the Bus Driver Risk Index™ profiles according to how each individual bus or coach driver scores relative to the norm group. An instant profile can then be sent directly to the driver and/or the designated manager.

Fatigue Proneness

Fatigue Proneness is the extent to which a driver is prone to fatigue after prolonged driving and is related to driver error and lower speeds. Fatigue Proneness is found to be the single strongest predictor of task-induced fatigue symptoms whilst driving. Driver fatigue is a major cause of road traffic accidents by increasing the risk of driver error and/or falling asleep at the wheel. Research at Cranfield University has also found that high scorers are more likely to suffer with sleep conditions such as sleep apnoea.

Hazard Monitoring

Hazard Monitoring is characterised by the active monitoring of hazards in the avoidance of bus driver stress and the ability to make quick decisions as a consequence. Hazard Monitoring is associated with increased task focus whilst driving and therefore high scores on this dimension has a beneficial effect on driver safety.

Relaxed Driving

Relaxed Driving is characterised by the extent to which a bus driver can relax and forget about problems and stresses both at work and after work. Relaxed drivers take things in their stride and are tend not to take things too personally.

Patient Driving

Patient Driving is characterised by non-aggressive driving, regardless of the situation and is expressed through a calm, relaxed, non-competitive approach. A low score on this factor would be seen as aggressive driving and would be characterised by negative appraisals of other drivers, which are expressed through intimidating or competing with other drivers. Therefore a low score for Patient Driving is associated with blameworthy bus crash involvement (Dorn, Garwood and Muncie, 2003). These cognitive processes tend to generate first, feelings of anger and second, dangerous driving behaviours, which reduce safety. Increased aggression is associated with accidents, speeding and more frequent and risky overtaking.

Anxious Driving

Anxious Driving is associated with negative appraisals of self as a driver and self-blame for being a bad driver. These cognitions generate negative mood states and worries, which interfere with task performance. Anxious Driving therefore, is associated with driver error, and somewhat erratic driving through over-cautiousness.

Thrill Seeking

Thrill Seeking is associated with risky behaviour in order to facilitate the sensation and thrill of driving a bus or coach. This dimension is linked with increased accident involvement and risky driving behaviour.

Incident Invevitability

Incident Inevitability is the extent to which a bus or coach driver feels they have control over the driving task, the situation they encounter and any crashes or incidents that they may be involved in.

Evaluative Coping

Evaluative Coping involves active attempts to change the environment by changing driving behaviour, looking on the bright side and by trying to evaluate what went wrong.

Emotion Focus Coping

Emotion Focus Coping involves criticising and blaming yourself when bus driving is difficult. High scorers worry about the consequences of having a crash and blame themselves for things that go wrong.

Risky Coping

Risky Coping involves mastering the driving challenge through aggressive and risky driving and is associated with unsafe bus driving behaviour.

Antagonistic Coping

Antagonistic Coping involves mastering the driving challenge through antagonising and conflicting with other drivers.

Avoidance Coping

Avoidance Coping involves attempting to ignore the situation, often through self-distraction.

Social Desirability

Socially desirable responding (SDR) can be defined simply as the tendency to give answers that make the respondent’s driving behaviour look good. There are a number of different techniques that can be employed to either control or measure SDR.

One such controlling technique, employed in the Bus Driver Risk Index™ is a milder version of a method known as the ‘bogus pipeline’. In its purest form the ‘bogus pipeline’ is essentially a pretend lie detector where respondents are hooked up to a machine and therefore want to avoid being embarrassed by the machine indicating that they are not being truthful. The milder version includes warning respondents, before they complete the inventory, that the measure contains methods for detecting faking. If respondents believe that they can be found out, their responses are likely to be less contaminated with SDR than ordinary self-reports.

In addition to this, a measure of SDR is included in the Bus Driver Risk Index™. Impression Management can be defined as purposeful tailoring of answers to create a social image of oneself as a law abiding and decent bus driver who always obeys the traffic rules, even if there were no risk of punishment.

Impression Management

If a driver has a high Impression Management score then it is likely that they have described themselves as less prone to fatigue, less likely to enjoy thrill seeking, more patient and better at monitoring hazards than is actually the case. They are also likely to claim to use Evaluative Coping more (an effective approach) and Risky Coping and Antagonistic Coping strategies (risky strategies) less than they actually do.

Driver Confidence

Driver Confidence was developed to measure a driver’s over-confidence in his/her ability to make rational and correct decisions when driving a bus. Although sufficient confidence in one’s own decisions is required for fluent driving, a high sense of control may be related to safety problems in general and false, exaggerated over-confidence in skills and abilities may in itself be extremely hazardous as bus and coach drivers may put themselves and their passengers in a risky situation believing they have the skills and abilities to take those risks.

Contact us for more information on the Bus Driver Risk Index


Dorn, L, Stephen, L., af Wåhlberg, A. E., & Gandolfi, J (2010). Developing and validating a self-report measure of bus driver behaviour. Ergonomics, 53(12), 1420–14 33.

Dorn, L. & Garwood, L. (2004). Development of a psychometric measure of bus driver behaviour. Behavioural Research in Road Safety: 13th Seminar, Department for Transport, HMSO.

Dorn, L. Garwood, L & Muncie, H. (2003). The accidents and behaviours of bus drivers. Behavioural Research in Road Safety: 12th Seminar, Department for Transport, Dublin, HMSO.

Garwood, L. & Dorn, L. (2003). Stress vulnerability and choice of coping strategies in UK bus drivers. In L. Dorn. (Ed). Driver Behaviour and Training. Ashgate: Aldershot.