As with most occupations, driving for a living has its good points and bad points. Bus and coach drivers usually enjoy being out and about rather than sat behind a desk, and coming into contact with lots of different people.
The downsides can include working at unsociable times such as early mornings, weekends or late nights, and dealing with other road users who may not understand the challenges of driving a large vehicle. This makes it all the more important that you drive carefully and considerately.
Driving with the right attitude
Passenger-carrying vehicles (PCVs) are generally bigger and noisier than most other vehicles on the road. They can be intimidating for other road users if they’re not driven carefully and responsibly.
As a professional driver, you should set a good example by showing care, courtesy and consideration for other road users. Having a good attitude and being calm will help to make your working life more enjoyable too.
Looking after your passengers
As well as driving your vehicle safely, you’ll also need to deliver your passengers safely, courteously, efficiently and on time to their destination.
- Look out for passengers waiting at the roadside who may not be able to see or hear the bus coming.
- Pull in close to the kerb to help passengers getting on or off the bus.
- Make eye contact and listen to each passenger.
- Sort out money and tickets, and let passengers get seated, before you move off.
- Use the internal mirrors to check the stairs on a double-deck vehicle, especially when you’re stopping, moving off or cornering.
- Check for passengers trying to get on or off the bus at the last minute before you pull away.
- Make sure the doors are shut before moving off.
Manual handling techniques
Working with PCVs can involve manual lifting so it’s important to know the correct way to lift loads safely.
- Think before you lift: is there anything you can use to help you lift? Where do you need to put the load? Is there anything in the way?
- Keep the load close to your waist.
- Start with your feet in a stable position: feet slightly apart and one leg slightly forward to keep balance.
- Get a good hold on the load, ideally hugging it close to your body.
- Start in a good posture: avoid stooping or squatting.
- Avoid twisting or leaning sideways, especially while your back is bent.
- Keep your head up.
- Move smoothly.
- Do not lift more than you can easily manage.
- Put the load down before adjusting it, if precise positioning is needed.
Diet and driving ability
Good health is essential for getting and keeping your PCV licence. An important part of this is taking a healthy approach to what you eat and drink. Eating well can help to reduce your risk of developing serious problems such as obesity, diabetes and heart disease.
Regular balanced meals will help you to concentrate. Carry water with you: staying hydrated will also help your concentration. You can use drinks containing caffeine, such as tea, coffee and some soft drinks, to help you feel more alert. Remember that caffeine does not remove sleepiness though, it just masks it for a while and you’ll feel more tired when it wears off. You should only use it as a short-term emergency way of dealing with tiredness when you’re driving.
For more information to help you prepare for driving a PCV, take a look at The Official DVSA Guide to Driving Buses and Coaches.