The moment drivers get behind the wheel of a car in a busy city they become exposed to many things that raise their stress levels. Similar to being a taxi driver, public transport drivers handle stressful work. Sitting all day, back problems, traffic and passenger threats can take a toll on a person. Some clinical studies have found that higher mortality and increased risk of heart disease as well as hypertension can result from public bus drivers' sedentary lifestyle.
When it comes to public transport drivers in Istanbul, the situation is worse. Taking part in the World Resources Institute Turkey Sustainable Cities project, Istanbul Electricity Tram and Tunnel (İETT) drivers are receiving stress management training to avoid possible risks and accidents on the road.
At first, a group of 180 drivers working 18 different lines will take both theoretical and practical courses on stress-coping strategies along with road safety and how to drive safely. The courses will take a month and each driver will be individually examined to see their deficiencies more properly. The drivers will also be monitored on the road, and if they keep experiencing similar problems the training will be repeated.
Stress management skills cover the project's second stage. Public transportation drivers, especially metrobus and bus drivers, are in continuous interaction with passengers and passenger management can be difficult and stressful at peak hours. In the courses, drivers will learn key points in passenger comfort, dealing with complaints and how to remain calm in traffic, which is an important problem not only for public transport drivers, but also for passengers and private car drivers in Istanbul.
Road safety experts will examine certain public transportation lines, monitoring accident numbers, types and the overall situation. The project also includes managers and station chiefs, aiming to train as many staff as possible. Following the training, a comparison will be made to see to what extent drivers achieve progress.