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Public backs Guide Dogs call for driver training

05 Mar 2014

The public have overwhelmingly backed calls for disability awareness training for all bus drivers in Britain.

A survey by ComRes for the charity Guide Dogs showed that more than 80% of people support the introduction of driver training as it would improve the experience of disabled bus passengers. This comes as the Government reviews whether bus and coach drivers must have disability awareness training.

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The UK is currently exempt from a European regulation which makes disability awareness training mandatory for all bus and coach drivers.

In March 2013 the Government promised to review the exemption in a year, now Guide Dogs is urging Transport Minister Baroness Kramer to act.

Campaigns Manager James White said: "We don’t want Britain to fall behind the rest of Europe on this issue. People with disabilities rely heavily on public transport and driver training is key to ensuring bus travel is accessible to all passengers. The sector has had a year to show they will improve driver disability awareness and while some bus companies provide training for their drivers, it is clear that many drivers are still not sufficiently trained."

Guide dog owner Bernie Fitchett from Gillingham said: "Training for bus drivers is essential and makes it so much easier for someone with a disability to use a bus confidently. Sometimes even small things make all the difference. I was at a bus stop recently and the bus driver was great and told me the number of the bus, so I went to step on, but what he didn’t tell me was that there were about five people stepping off at the same time! Bumping into them was a bit embarrassing so I think the more awareness drivers have the better."

The ComRes survey for Guide Dogs showed overwhelming public support for a number of measures to improve bus journeys for disabled passengers. Significantly, 87% of people backed Guide Dogs’ Talking Buses campaign, agreeing that audio announcements on buses would have a positive impact on the experience of a disabled bus passengers.

Other measures supported include the return of on-board conductors (81%), more buses in rural areas (85%) and stricter enforcement of anti-social behaviour rules (85%)


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