Bus Driver WellBeing: A Research Review

For every $1 invested in wellness, there is an almost $6 return.

The transit industry is losing between 1.5 and 3 billion dollars a year to unscheduled absenteeism. There is an epidemic of burnout in high stress jobs. Burnout in transit means assaults, high absenteeism, sick days, FMLA usage, healthcare costs, errors on the job, lowered morale, and poor customer interactions. This can destroy employees lives, and an organizations budget. This isn’t just happening in transportation. Nurses have 2x the rate of depression as the general population. Medical student suicide has increased 50%, and the physician suicide rate is 4x that of the general population. 100k nurses and doctors are actively abusing opiates/benzodiazepines. 20 service members commit suicide every day. Only 1 out of 9 bus drivers reaches retirement age of 60 due to muscle/skeletal/emotional injuries. In studies of heart attack patients under 40, bus drivers make up the highest represented profession. Here is some research that asks the question, “What are we going to do to tackle this issue?” I am often asked by transit leaders for more information about the health and performance of their drivers. Listed below are studies from the transit field.

50-year review of the occupational health of urban bus drivers. Early findings that bus drivers are liable to suffer ill health as a result of the job remain true today. The research has, however, demonstrated a greater understanding that specific stressors result in certain physical (cardiovascular disease, gastrointestinal disorders, musculoskeletal problems, fatigue), psychological (depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder) and behavioral outcomes (substance abuse). https://www.scribd.com/document/330645373/Bus-Driver-Well-being-Review-50-Years-of-1

Article entitled “The Very Mortal Life of a City Bus Driver,” which contains references to numerous studies around the world on bus driver health and wellness. http://www.citylab.com/commute/2012/09/very-mortal-life-city-bus-drivers/3166/

“Working On The Hot Seat” -A review of stress impacts on bus drivers and their health.
http://atu587.org/sites/default/files/Working%20on%20the%20Hot%20Seat%20-%20Urban%20Bus%20Operators%20-%20compressed.pdf

Riveting daily account of a mass transit driver, coupled with incredible information about poor health outcomes associated with the job stress. There are some unique insights in here about how drivers who “toughly deny the stress of the job, silently suffering” are basically liquefying their internal organs.

The Prevalence of Transit Assault and its Consequences
Consequences of these assaults show a significant positive relationship between the number of assaults and significantly increased degrees of alcohol use, feelings of depression, avoidance of work related situations, and a greater feeling of intention to quit the job.
http://www.ncitec.msstate.edu/wp-content/uploads/P29.pdf

Bus drivers’ mental conditions and their relation to bus passengers’ accidents with a focus on the psychological stress concept.

Recognition from managers and supervisors about how hard their job is has been proven to lower stress response and the health effects of stress. — -Really fascinating implications for no cost ways to lower burnout. From Japan. http://www.humanergology.com/old/jhe2008p/01-Vol%2037-1%20p1-11%20Yamada.pdf

Only one in nine drivers reached retirement age. According to one report, partly because they suffered musculoskeletal or mental health problems before they got there. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/02678379008256968

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: A Neglected Health Concern among Commercial Motor Vehicle Drivers Abstract Background: Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder that may develop following a trauma. Iranian commercial motor vehicle drivers experience many road traffic accidents during their working life; this may increase the probability for developing PTSD, which in turn may lead to increased human errors as well as decreased work efficiency https://www.researchgate.net/publication/258061238_Post-Traumatic_Stress_Disorder_A_Neglected_Health_Concern_among_Commercial_Motor_Vehicle_Drivers

Psychological distress and job satisfaction among bus drivers.
“There was a simultaneous association in which psychological distress leads to job dissatisfaction both following assault and 2 months later.
Conclusions Our findings support a synchronous effects model and suggest that interventions after suffering physical assaults, apart from helping employees to recover their health, should consider restoring their trust and confidence in the organization.”
http://occmed.oxfordjournals.org/content/65/4/290.full

Study from 1996, one of the earlier studies into PTSD among drivers. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8932226

Bus Driver Occupational Stress and Stress Prevention-http://www.bvsde.paho.org/bvsast/i/fulltext/bustress/bustress.pdf

Lifetime exposure to trauma/burnout amongst drivers. http://prx.sagepub.com/content/83/3_suppl/1155.refs?patientinform-links=yes&legid=spprx;83/3_suppl/1155

Absence behavior, turnover and disability: A study among city bus drivers.Absenteeism among these drivers was two to three times as high as the national average, while the risk of disablement was more than twice as high as the risk for male Dutch civil servants in general. Bus drivers who had to leave their job for medical reasons did so at a younger age than other groups of civil servants. The main conditions leading to disablement related to the back, tendons and joints (35%), mental disorders (35%) and cardiovascular diseases (12%). It was shown that long-term absenteeism is a strong precursor of future disability. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/02678379008256968

The Relationship between Job Structure, Burnout, and Coping Methods among Public School county Bus Drivers, Bus Aides, Mechanics, and Clerical Workers. (fascinating data in the beginning from public mass transit driver health) http://digitalcommons.fiu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2014&context=etd

Information on how Resiliency Building via War Zone Wellness Training Helped SEPTA drivers.
http://thephiladelphiacitizen.org/red-kite-project-philadelphia-septa-driver-training/

If you have any questions let me know! This is an issue that if ignored, will be to the peril of the transportation industry.

Zach