Most QLD drivers experience assault

By: Chris Thompson

Bus drivers in Queensland have responded to a TWU/ QBIC survey with safety concerns

Most QLD drivers experience assault
Most QLD bus drivers have experienced assault or abuse on the job

The Transport Workers Union (TWU) and the Queensland Bus Industry Council (QBIC) recently moved to take action after a survey revealed most Queensland bus drivers have experienced assault or abuse on the job.

More than half (62.4 per cent) of the 1000 drivers surveyed also reported the abuse as a regular occurrence.

QBIC executive director David Tape says the attitude towards drivers in their work environment needs to be addressed.

"A staggering number of our drivers have reported being abused with one in five being physically attacked at the wheel and it must stop now," Tape says.

"There were more than 40 reported attacks on bus drivers in Queensland in every year from 2011.

"We need harsher penalties for all offenders who attack bus drivers and the travelling public. Comprehensive risk assessments need to be conducted on our bus networks."

TWU Queensland secretary Peter Biagini agrees, saying the threat to drivers is becoming worse.

"Bus driver assaults have always been an issue, but as we've seen increases in public transport usage we also see an increase in incidents," Biagini says.

"The worst places are often the holiday spots – Cairns and the Gold Coast.

"Especially when people have had a bit to drink, it's easier for situations to escalate to violence."

Biagini says the results, though surprising to most outside the industry, weren’t a shock to the TWU.

"Unfortunately we are not surprised by the reactions from drivers to our survey," he says

"We conducted it across Queensland and nearly every single driver we spoke to has been the subject of some sort of abuse, whether it's verbal or physical."

He’s now calling for Translink to be more proactive in keeping Queensland bus drivers and public transport workers safe.

"With QBIC on board it's become a much more cooperative relationship with the employer groups so that we have combined strength to call on Translink to step up and improve safety for the drivers.

"We need to continue to educate the public about what's happening, and so far we have thousands of signatures on petitions calling on Translink to up their game," he says.

More concerning statistics revealed from the survey include 71.8 per cent of drivers reporting having objects thrown at their bus, and one-in-five having been physically assaulted at the wheel.

Almost 90 per cent also say that Translink scheduling pressures drivers into risky driving, while about 99 per cent say the contract renewal process the government is introducing will increase pressure on drivers.

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