Careless or Reckless Driving

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Much poor driving is the result of fatigue — often caused by schedules too tight to contain any (much less any meaningful) “recovery” or “layover” time at the end of the route or trip, or when driver assignment is not “bio-sensitive” (i.e., when shift assignments ignore a driver’s sleep cycle tendencies or circadian rhythms, as for example when early -- risers are assigned to night shifts, or late-risers are assigned to early morning shifts). When schedules are too tight, operators often drive “too fast for conditions,” a particular problem when travel is further impeded by inclement weather, traffic, detours, construction zones, poor roadway surface conditions, speed bumps or other obstacles. Careless or reckless driving is more dangerous for standees and unsecured wheelchair users, yet surprisingly, the inclusion of knowledge about inertial and centrifugal forces is rare in driver training in virtually every mode. Finally, these problems are exacerbated when they involve vehicles without pneumatic suspension systems (like those most transit buses or motorcoaches possess) or at least “hybrid” suspension systems (like some school buses and minibus conversions), and as a result, the vertical forces from dips and bumps are more exaggerated when exerted on the passengers’ bodies. A driver’s failure to slow down significantly while traversing speed bumps and particularly speed humps is particularly problematic to passengers with certain types of disabilities, such as brittle bone disease or spinal conditions. All these problems are exaggerated in rain and snow conditions, when passengers track in snow, ice and water — rendering the flooring slippery.

Inadequate following distance is also a common failure, particularly critical in public transportation because its larger vehicles require more time and distance to brake to a stop, and because the largest of them (like transit buses and motorcoaches), contain air brakes — which also increase a driver’s reaction time. Inadequate following distance does not simply result in rear-ending (which is actually uncommon). Instead, it often leads to an infinite variety of quick stops which, in turn, compound the risks of other errors and omissions (like failing to secure wheelchairs, not letting passengers reach a point of seating or securement before pulling away from a stop, poor or poorly-maintained stanchions or grab handles, and even standees on modes designed and properly equipped for them), and translates them into serious incidents.