The Essential Guide for Managing a Bus Breakdown
One of the most common hazards in the bus and coach industry is the on-road safety risks presented by a bus breakdown or malfunction. While breakdowns can occur in all motor vehicles, the risks associated with bus breakdowns, where the vehicle is carrying public passengers and often schoolchildren, can be significant.
Data from the bus and coach sector reveals that the majority of serious injuries and fatalities occur not within the bus but rather on the road where passengers alighting from a bus can be hit by other vehicles. There is also the potential of multiple fatalities from a collision between a moving vehicle and a stationary bus or repair vehicle.
These risks increase significantly in rural and regional Australia where a combination of highspeed roads, often with single lanes and high volumes of other heavy vehicle traffic, present additional safety issues. Road infrastructure in rural areas is generally poorer which, when combined with fog, wet weather and geographical features can produce significant hazards for bus passengers and motorists in the event of a bus breakdown.
The primary author of this guideline is BusNSW in partnership with the Bus Industry Confederation. We would like to extend our appreciation to members of the bus taskforce that provided valuable insights into best practice principles. The taskforce included bus operators and representatives from state associations as part of the Bus Australia Network. We are also sincerely grateful for the financial support of the Commonwealth through their Heavy Vehicle Safety Initiative scheme administered via the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator.
The guide was first published in March 2022 and applies to Australian road conditions and rules.
The guide has relevance to operational staff, workshop and mechanical staff, drivers and their passengers.
The guide is split into 4 key sections:
- Preparing for a bus breakdown (communications, training, ensuring the bus is equipped with safety tools)
- Process for attending a bus breakdown (malfunction detection, identifying a safe harbour, securing the bus and attending to passengers)
- Process for conducting road-side repairs (arrival and parking at the scene, keeping safe from other passing vehicles, undertaking repairs and clean-up)
- Workplace Templates (risk assessment, communications, pre-departures, driver and maintenance staff checklists).