1 in 6 bus drivers admit falling asleep at wheel, says new report

Bus drivers picketed City Hall this morning. Credit: ITN

The Unite union staged a protest outside City Hall today urging Transport for London to take action to cut fatigue amongst bus drivers.

It follows research by Loughborough University which found that 17% of bus drivers admitted to falling asleep at least once while driving. 5% had been involved in at least one accident in the last year due to tiredness.

Unite is calling for work rosters to be changed, driver facilities to be improved and the work culture at bus garages to be changed. It says that under the current rules, drivers can be behind the wheel for a total of 10 hours a day, which could include 5 and half hours without a break.

TfL must take decisive action and force bus operators to stop flogging their workers to the point of exhaustion. The safety of the general public and workers is being placed at risk because of fatigue being suffered by London bus drivers.

John Murphy, Unite regional officer

Transport for London, who commissioned the report, says that from next year, new bus contracts will require the operators to have robust systems in place to stop their drivers getting too tired. They're also launching a health bus which will visit garages to give advice to bus staff.

The actions set out by TfL today in response to the research are the start and not the end of the work that they will do to address bus driver fatigue and I am confident that, with the co-operation of bus operators and drivers, we can make London’s bus network ever better and safer than it is today.

Heidi Alexander, Deputy Mayor for Transport