How can steering wheel design keep bus drivers safe?

14th July 2020
Alex Lynn

Finding ways to limit the spread of coronavirus on public transport is a complex problem with no single solution. However, a new detachable steering wheel concept would offer substantial benefits, particularly from the perspective of bus driver safety. Here, Roger Brereton, Head of Sales at bus and coach steering system specialist Pailton Engineering, has explained more.

Bus cabins are notoriously unhygienic working environments. From dirty windscreens and sticky steering wheels to polystyrene cups strewn all over the cabin, bus drivers have to endure a whole host of unhygienic cabin conditions.

With the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, priorities must change. If operators want to explore new and innovative ways to improve bus cabin hygiene and keep their drivers safe then the steering wheel is a good place to start. Even without the risk of coronavirus, your average steering wheel has over three times as many colony-forming units of bacteria as a toilet seat.

A detachable steering wheel would offer many benefits in terms of keeping the bus cabin hygienic and protecting driver safety. Although operators often provide disinfectant wipes to drivers, many of these wipes will cause the steering wheel material to degrade over time.

Engineers at Pailton Engineering developed the design concept before the outbreak of coronavirus, hoping to raise awareness of bus cabin hygiene and demonstrate the real need to empower drivers with control over their work environment. Now, given the increased risks drivers might face, the concept seems even more valuable.

We showcased this concept at Busworld in 2019 and it generated a great deal of interest from bus manufacturers and industry bodies alike. With the rise of bring your own device to work culture, it is arguably an idea whose time has come.

The bus and coach sector was already set to see a huge shift in priorities, driven by new engineering concepts that have the potential to improve road safety and ergonomics for drivers. Now, more than ever, bus manufacturers and bus operators need to find new solutions to improve hygiene and driver safety. Exploring innovative new steering wheel designs will likely be key to reaching that goal.

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