Y2016-S1 Bus accidents 1/2015–6/2016

A theme investigation was conducted on traffic accidents involving a bus that occurred in the period 1/1/2015–30/6/2016. Incident data was collected from media news coverage, the databases of the police and rescue services, and the data collected by the road accident investigation teams of the Finnish Crash Data Institute. In addition, a survey was conducted on bus drivers.

The purpose of the investigation was to identify the key types of accidents and their underlying factors in order to improve passenger safety. The investigation material consisted of 668 incidents that were most relevant to passenger safety. Based on the type of accident, these were divided into collisions (552) and going off the road (104). In all the accidents included in the investigation, no one on board the buses died. There were 20 serious injuries and 220 slight injuries. From among the counterparties to the accidents, 13 people died, 28 were seriously injured, and 188 sustained slight injuries.

The situation get dangerous for the passengers are when the bus turns over. There were 19 of such accidents in total. They caused serious injuries to 12 people and slight injuries to 64 people who were on board the buses. Seat belt use reduces the likelihood of injury but only about half of all bus passengers use the seat belt.

Slippery road conditions were a significant factor in accidents that occurred in the winter. This situation can be improved by using winter tires, through road maintenance, and remembering flexibility when making the bus schedules.

Other road users not understanding or accepting that buses need more space and time than other traffic makes driving a bus more difficult. The incompetence of other road users to take a proactive approach to traffic is also a key factor.

Improvements are also required in the management of bus drivers’ state of health. Approximately 40% of the incidents of a bus going off the road in the summer were caused by the driver's inability to function. According to the drivers, the productivity demands for public transport affected their work, causing time pressure and fatigue, and thus also having a wider negative effect on well-being.

The Safety Investigation Authority recommends the following:

• The Finnish Transport Agency issues guidelines for taking passenger safety into account when defining the service level of public transport. The transport service provider must be required to have in place an appropriate safety management system for assistance in, for example, the selection of tires, vehicles and routes, and for guiding training, competence, the planning of work schedules and vehicle maintenance.

• The Finnish Transport Safety Agency checks the requirements and practices relating to the monitoring and safeguarding of the state of health of bus drivers and ensures that the likelihood and consequences of losing the ability to functions are managed in the same manner as with other modes of transport. Attention must also be paid to psychiatric health and fatigue management.

• The Employers’ Federation of Road Transport and the Transport Workers’ Union will examine the problems related to the well-being of bus drivers, safety and other road users’ attitudes and lack of understanding, and also agree on the relevant communication and other corrective measures.

In addition, the following recommendations of previous accident investigations are repeated:

• The Finnish Transport Safety Agency is to commission a report on the characteristics of winter tires of heavy-duty vehicles and conveys the results to the bus industry for the purpose of promoting the selection of safe tires. Furthermore, making it mandatory to use tires best suited for winter driving conditions in the front axle of buses during should be considered.

• The Bus Union is to launch a campaign to increase seat belt use, and transport service providers should instruct their drivers to inform passengers about the availability and use of seat belts. Seats equipped with a seat belt should also have a sign advising to wear it.

Y2016-S1 report (in Fnnish) (pdf, 3.56 Mt)

Published 8.8.2017