Engaging minibus taxi drivers in the quest for child safer roads
South Africa has double the world average child road fatality rate, with at least 1 300 children killed every year. A leading contributor to this public health challenge is the lack of safe public transport that enables children to reach schools easily. Minibus taxis (MBTs), South Africa’s incarnation of paratransit services, have aimed to fill this gap by providing transport at a reasonably priced fare and a relatively higher frequency, compared with other modes of public transport. However, the informal nature of MBTs means that this form of transport places passengers at a relatively higher risk of road accidents due to the use of unroadworthy vehicles, reckless driving and speeding. This paper provides an overview of the Safe Travel To School (STTS) programme, which was initiated in 2014 with a view to providing a localised intervention that would potentially strengthen the safety of MBTs for scholar transport in South Africa. The programme aims to provide safer travel for child passengers by monitoring driver performance through a tracking device installed in each vehicle and rewarding good driver performance each quarter. A driver recruited into the programme also undergoes health tests and training that covers first aid, defensive driving and road safety training. The literature review that each of these components improves driver performance. A previous evaluation of the programme found that since inception, drivers in the programme have shown better driving performance than general motorists. Thus, the STTS programme potentially provides an implementable practice model for safe scholar transport that is oriented towards a developing country like South Africa.
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