A round of applause, if you please, for the Stagecoach drivers of Carlisle who this week were declared (albeit by their own company) to be the safest bus drivers in the country.
Stagecoach’s joyful revelation follows the introduction of a hi-tech driver-management system called GreenRoad, which means depot staff can now carefully monitor the performance and decision-making of all its drivers.
As well as giving bus drivers real-time feedback on their driving style, including speed, braking, acceleration, lane-handling and turning, the system records potentially risky manoeuvres like harsh braking or rapid acceleration, as well as other data about the way the vehicle is being driven.
The system was rolled out by Stagecoach bosses last year and when they checked the national figures they found that drivers at the company’s Carlisle depot were the best, with an average ‘event rate’ of 0.8 per hour – which means a risky manoeuvre was carried out on average 0.8 times every 60 minutes.
Now, call me picky but as a passenger I’d be perfectly happy with a risky manoeuvre rate of 0.0 times every 60 minutes. I don’t want to be part of a risky manoeuvre at all. To know that I can expect one at least every hour and fifteen minutes is scarcely reassuring.
Still, it seems to have pleased Stagecoach, which does makes you wonder what their other drivers must be like. White knuckle ride, anyone?
“I’m delighted that our drivers are displaying such high-quality driving skills through the use of this new technology,” said Stagecoach Cumbria and North Lancashire managing director Nigel Winter.
“By driving more efficiently, we can reduce the amount of fuel we use which leads to environmental benefits as well as even more comfortable journeys for our customers.”
And saves you lots of money, of course. You forgot to mention that.
Seriously, though, GreenRoad is actually quite a cool system. It encourages drivers to stay within a so-called ‘green driving zone’ with the aid of dashboard-mounted lights, with the best drivers achieving a score closest to zero. Drivers need to score an average of less than two points an hour over every 10-hour block of driving to gain green points which they can then convert into bonus payments.
It's reckoned that bad driving decisions are responsible for up to 33 per cent of fuel usage, so anything which is aimed at improving driving standards by getting drivers to make better decisions about braking and accelerating could deliver real economies.
So, good news all round, then. Not sure how well this would work in London , though. The Old Kent Road alone must have a risky manoeuvre rate of several thousand per hour…