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Bus driver safety behaviour

30 January 2018

± minute read

    Bus driver safety behaviour
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With recent statistics revealing that road accident fatalities across South Africa increased by an alarming 9% from 2015 to 20161, renewed emphasis is placed on promoting safe driving, especially among those responsible for passengers. Safe driving behaviour extends beyond sufficient driving skills and being alert, in that there is a large body of research proving the predictability of personality traits in driving behaviour. Certain personality traits are linked to riskier driving, such as impulsiveness and excitement seeking while risky drivers are less likely to be agreeable and conscientious2.



In collaboration with a South African transit company, bus drivers (n = 145) were assessed using the Raven’s Standard Progressive Matrices (SPM), Basic Traits Inventory (BTI) and Work-Related Risk and Integrity Scale (WRISc) as part of a validation study. These psychometric test results feed into an integrated competency report specifically designed to select proficient bus drivers. Psychometric results were correlated with performance data to see which personality profiles were least likely to exhibit poor driving performance. It is important to note that no significant correlation was found between disruptive driving and general ability. Safe and proper driving was thus not linked to general ability. There were, however, significant correlations between disruptive driving behaviour and overall competencies and personality traits specifically. The results are summarised below.


  • Drivers with records for operating in the fast lane had lower scores on the Safety Orientation, Integrity, and Discipline competencies. These drivers may have difficulty with anger management; may not comprehend to what extent their actions may affect the outcome of events; may have difficulty delaying immediate gratification; may be manipulative; and may tend to experience negative emotions such as anxiety, sadness, guilt, frustration, and depressed mood.
  • Drivers who had recorded violations on cameras installed in the busses appear to be less likely to feel shame, remorse and sadness, and less sensitive to criticism. These scores may relate to the tendency to be less self-aware and not engage in appropriate self-management techniques, even when knowing they are being watched.
  • The drivers who were bypassing passengers, scored lower on the Customer Service and Stress Management competencies. These drivers are likely to be emotionally volatile. Thus, depending on their mood, they will be more likely to not stop for passengers. With regard to relationships with the passengers, they are less likely to get along, show compassion and sympathy, be sincere, help, and defer to others. It is possible that these drivers will thus not feel regret or guilty when they leave a passenger behind. These drivers are also more likely to have a negative outlook on life, which in turn will influence how they deal with passengers.


Given that the sample consisted of incumbent bus drivers, it is not surprising that there were no high incidents of reckless driving such as accidents and negligence, to be linked to their psychometric profiles. Overall, the results highlighted personality profiles that are more likely to show risky behaviour (driving in the fast lane, and recorded violations) and who are less inclined to offer good customer service.  

1 Business Tech. (2017, June 9). South Africa’s shocking road death numbers at highest level in 10 years. Retrieved from https://businesstech.co.za/news/motoring/178275/south-africas-shocking-road-death-numbers-at-highest-level-in-10-years/

2 Šucha, M. (2015, May). Personality traits as a valid predictor of risky driving. Paper presented at the Forty-Seventh CIECA Congress, Berlin, Germany. Presentation retrieved from http://traffic-psychology-international.eu/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/Sucha_CIECA_2015_2_EN_FINAL.pdf

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