Monday, April 03, 2017

Safer transport options for passengers: Distracted and dangerous driving among minibuses

Over the course of this week, CRRC-Georgia will publish the results of a randomized control trial on minibus safety. While the introduction post to this series highlighted that Georgia’s roadways are dangerous, just how dangerous minibus drivers are has largely been left undescribed. As part of the Safer Transport Options for Passengers project, CRRC-Georgia collected data on dangerous and distracted driving practices on minibuses. This blog post reports descriptive statistics about distracted and dangerous driving from drivers unaware that they were being monitored.

While estimates do not exist for Georgia for how many accidents are caused by distracted and other dangerous driving practices, they are very likely contribute to the high fatality rates on the roads in Georgia. When it comes to distracted driving alone, studies from other contexts suggest that a distracted driver’s chances of being in an accident are four times higher. Cell phone use is associated with increased incidence of accidents among both novice and experienced drivers. Importantly, commercial vehicle drivers are no exception, with increased risk of accident associated with distracted driving among commercial drivers.

Overall, among minibus drivers unaware of being monitored, 96% engaged in some form of poor driving behavior, with illegal passes being the most common, followed by making telephone calls, and other aggressive driving maneuvers. Notably, few drivers were observed text messaging while driving. While we cannot claim that the data presented here is representative, for technical reasons, it is highly suggestive of the high prevalence of dangerous and distracted driving practices among minibuses on Georgia’s roadways.

The graph below presents the average number of times a driver engaged in a dangerous driving behavior as well as the maximum value for each indicator. Although the minimum value was 0 for each indicator, the high values for the maximums suggest that some drivers are particularly prone to dangerous driving, with as many as 62 dangerous events observed in a single trip.

The above statistics suggest that distracted and dangerous driving are common problems among minibus drivers in Georgia. In order to help ameliorate the situation, CRRC-Georgia tested whether a simple minibus monitoring policy would decrease the prevalence of dangerous and distracted driving. In subsequent posts in this series, we report the results of the randomized control trial, which suggest that such a program would in fact be effective.


Unknown said...

Thank you for this!! I couldn't find your definition of "incident" in first graph? Maybe I missed it.

I was thinking of this issue yesterday and if Geo Govt makes a campaign it would be quite successful if the public is encouraged to take out their mobile phones and record the driver each time he speaks on phone, smokes, etc. Although most use of cellphones in the minibuses would of course NOT be recording these issues, people use their phones a lot in the buses, and I believe drivers will be much more likely to worry that they are being recorded (even when they are not). Of course a more expensive solution is to equip all buses (and/or require commercial vehicles coming into Georgia) with video cameras of the drivers...maybe a combination? I'm convinced that if both solutions are used it would have an impact.

Dustin Gilbreath said...


First, thanks for your support and interest in our research!

With the definition, any incident includes:

Text messaged;
Had telephone conversations;
Did not wear a seat belt;
Passed in areas it was not legal to do so;
Made other aggressive driving maneuvers;
Behaved aggressively towards passengers;
Behaved aggressively towards non-passengers.

The latter two measures were extremely rare, so we did not present them on the chart.

Kind Regards,