A Guide for School minibus drivers

The ability of an individual to drive a minibus safely is extremely important due to the size and risk of driving such a large vehicle.

Our brief guide for (both potential and current) minibus drivers is comprised of the best tips and key advice. We have separated the manual into subheadings according to the most significant areas in preparing you for minibus driving and have included the necessary information regarding safety – because after all our aim here at Quotax is to simplify the journey.

Responsibility

Driving a minibus only occurs after volunteering to do so and therefore personal responsibility lays with the volunteer. If a mechanical defect is reported by police, the driver is accountable and is liable for fines, license points or even prosecution – regardless of whether they own the vehicle or not. The driver has the requirement to ensure that the insurance policy covers all leisure uses and information (i.e number of passengers, weight).

Training

Minibus use is typically associated with school trips or club outings and the training programmes for the permits are usually provided – with full funding – by the National Union of Teachers (NUT). The programmes cover all the key sections (vehicle familiarisation, emergency scenario, seatbelt use, disability aids and road assessment) and are generally several weeks long.

Checks

Before every minibus journey, the teacher driving should check the following components:

  • Fuel and oil level
  • Windscreen wipers/washers
  • Lights
  • Indicators
  • Brakes
  • First Aid Kit
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Permit on display
  • Seatbelts
  • Paperwork (insurance and driving license)

The teacher should also check at regular intervals – but not before every use – the following more mechanical aspects of the vehicle:

  • Tyre pressure (particularly critical given that under-inflated tyres are the main fault with accidents, according to Belt Up School Kids Campaign)
  • Coolant level
  • Brake fluid level

Permits

A Section 19 is a permit which enables an organisation to lend their minibus to another organisation, not for profit. If you do not lend the vehicle at all, you do not need a Section 19. The Traffic Area Network Office supplies the permits and can be contacted via the Vehicle and Operator Service Agency (VOSA).

Driving Licenses

You can only drive a minibus if these 5 standards are met:

  • You must have a full car driving license and must have held it for at least two years
  • You must not drive a minibus with more than 16 passengers
  • You must be 21 or older
  • You must have a Section 19

Rules

In addition to those mentioned above, there are laws in place to better confirm the safety of minibus passengers:

  • A 2 point or 3 point lap seatbelt is required at every seat, including the disabled spaces
  • Children aged 14 or above are held personally responsible for their safety and seatbelt use
  • UK Minibuses going abroad have to comply to European Commission regulations over driving hours
  • Minibuses abroad must have a tachograph (a device used to record speed and distance of travel) attached
  • The past ‘3for2 concession’ (allowing three kids to share two seats) has been made illegal – every child must occupy an individual seat
  • The NUT has issued a strong recommendation that a 2nd driver is present in the minibus on all journeys (though this is not a law)
  • Pre 1997 driving licenses automatically included a minibus enabling qualification. After 1997, minibus drivers require an additional Category D1 test and pass (for which the Local Education Agency will pay)
  • School Minibuses typically have an Any Driver Policy so each teacher or staff member driving does not need to make themselves known on the insurance (unless they have previously committed crimes or have been involved in accidents)

Minibus Tips For Winter

At Quotax, we comprehend how useful minibuses can be – particularly in the winter season with transport being critical for festive school/work/community trips – but also understand the dangers of wintertime driving. Efforts must be made to further ensure the safety of passengers when making a journey at this time of the year and so we have produced a quick guide to help.

Have greater braking distances

As the minibus is a larger vehicle, it is heavier and therefore builds up more momentum. The time it takes to brake is longer and the stopping distance is bigger. When roads are icy and wet, the distance increases even more – it is essential to maintain reasonable space at all times.

Travel at slower speeds

Leading on from the point above, going slower is altogether beneficial. With the cold weather risks, moving at a moderately unhurried velocity means moving with stability. To have best control of the vehicle, and avoid the slippery hazards, we think you should stick to the inside lane.

Take regular breaks en route

If you are using a minibus, it is likely that you are travelling relatively far. As the driver, you should free to take frequent breaks if you need to. The climate towards the end and at the start of the year causes a more difficult setting for transport and requires care, diligence and focus. To avoid distraction and develop concentration, ultimately safety, the driver should plan small rests along the trip.

Check tyre pressure

Under inflated tyres pose a threat to grip and control. With a large vehicle, a minibus, it is absolutely crucial to confirm that the tyres are well pressured. If you’re making multiple journeys through the winter period, we recommend that you keep a close eye on the tyres to make sure that the tread is adequate and the pressure is at a safe level.

Thoroughly de-ice

Frost and ice restrain visibility, covering windscreens and mirrors. Before you embark on your group trip, you need to spend time de-icing properly. Sight is more than important, especially given the braking distance needs and ability to focus, and so it is wise to stock up on anti-freeze or de-icer for your minibus over the wintertime.

Tips For The Electric Taxi Over The Festive Period

TX Electric Taxi

The TX from LEVC offers technological advantages for cabbies, especially through the winter, and acts as the perfect assistance for taxis in delivering quality service for passengers travelling during the cold seasons. Whether you are a TX driver or a cabbie considering purchasing one, at Quotax we think that an insight into some of its most beneficial features, particularly useful at this time of the year, could be helpful and so have created a list of the best tips below.

Ensure that Forward Collision Warning is switched on.

Forward Collision Warning (FCW) is a digital instrument provided by the TX to alert the driver of potential collision risks ahead of the vehicle. It is particularly useful in the winter as braking can be done well in advance, reducing chances of control loss or slipping on ice, and so we heavily recommend that this is turned on.

 

Use the Lane Departure Warning.

Lane Departure Warning (LDW) is another TX electronic tool which displays its technological skill. The taxi analyses and processes the lane markings on the road and if you are drifting out of your lane, the LDW will, subsequently, produce an alert reminding the driver. Given the icy conditions with the cold and the ease of accidentally drifting, the LDW is extremely helpful indeed.

 

Adjust the heating zone.

To save energy and maximise the efficiency of the cab, the driver can adjust the heating zone to focus on specific areas of the vehicle. When it’s a cold day and there’s no passenger at that moment, the cabbie can cut off the heating circulation to the back and use less energy in heating their own space – another benefit for winter.

 

Use the programmable timer to pre-heat the cab.

As the taxi charges, the driver can set a timer for the heating system to activate. This allows the cabin to warm before the driver/passenger enters and makes the cab even more welcoming upon entry.

 

Turn on the heated seats.

The two points above both emphasise how advantageous the heating apparatus is and without doubt it is largely beneficial. However, the system also uses quite a lot of energy. The TX obviously has a method to solve this – heated seats. Utilising the heated seat application provides that sense of warmth, essential during winter, whilst keeping the energy consumption to a minimum. It is a great feature which we recommend you to make the most of.

 

Play Christmas music using the onboard Wi-Fi.

The TX has a Wi-Fi hub attached within every vehicle. So, as a driver of cold passengers through the winter period, you could cheer them up and restore that festive feeling by utilising the Wi-Fi to access music services and play the classics. We think that your passengers would appreciate it and so urge you to consider it.

Minibuses are replacing buses in parts of rural Wales

The local politicians of Flintshire have decided to substitute local bus services, predominantly used by the elderly around the rural country area, with new minibuses.

Councillors agreed that minibus vehicles provide a more sustainable form of transport for passengers after a funding cut to existing bus operators.

The use of the new minibus fleets is being viewed as significantly more efficient – matching the demand for the service as well as reducing emissions.

Funding for the changes to the transport system came from the Welsh government and the European Union. Over the last few years there has been a big push for the reduction of emissions across the EU with significant funding available to make this happen.

Timetables and schedules for the daily running of the minibuses have been organised to give students lifts to and from school as well.

As a result, more rural areas have seen a greater independence of both the elderly and the youth with a beneficial drop in associated fuel costs and emissions.

The use of minibuses – in replacement of the expensive, less sustainable larger buses – has ultimately worked to better the communities whilst producing an effort against global warming and potential climate change in the long-run.

Poppy Cabs – Rememberance Sunday 2018

London’s Taxis will again be giving up their time to provide a free taxi service from the following mainline stations:

 

  • Paddington
  • Marylebone
  • Euston
  • Kings Cross
  • Liverpool Street
  • Fenchurch Street
  • London Bridge Waterloo
  • Victoria Mail Line
  • Victoria Coach Station

Plus the following service clubs

 

  • Victory Services Club
  • Union Jack Club

 

The Taxi service will run between the stations and Admiralty Arch and will also be providing return journeys from Westminster bridge.

For a number of years this event has been very well supported by hundreds of London Taxis drivers giving up their Sundays to assist veterans and their family’s remembering those fallen in two world wars and later conflicts.

Marshals will be at hand to direct veterans from mainline stations into waiting Taxis. Quotax are pleased to support this event with a number of Staff and family members assisting with the Waterloo drop off.

Drivers can support the event by turning up from 8am onwards at any of the mainline stations or you can contact Mike Hughes on mike@mikehughes.org.ukplease also follow @poppycabs and @UCGUP where information will be posted throughout the day.

Dean Richardson Maintains Unbeaten Record

London Taxi Driver, Dean Richardson, won his first fight under new trainer Gary Logan on Saturday night, making it his 8th consecutive victory.

Richardson improved his record to 8-0 with 5 knockouts with a shut out 60-54 points victory over Arvydas Trizno from Lithuania.

The South Ruislip boxer used his height and reach advantage to good effect using long jabs before landing hard left hands through the guard. Trizno only occasionally fired back with hard hooks but was ineffective as they were defended well by Richardson.

The fight, which was held at Tottenham Green Pools and Leisure Centre, was the first that Richardson and Logan had worked on together. The improvements were evident and the pair plan to continue their success together as Richardson eyes a shot at the Southern Area title in 2019.

Dean Richardson Fight 13th October

London taxi driver and professional boxer, Dean Richardson, will be returning to the ring on October 13th in his 8th professional fight of his boxing career.

His first fight of the season will be held at Tottenham Green Leisure Centre on a show headlined by a clash between Kay Prosper and Danny Cassius Connor in an eliminator for the English title.

Currently 7-0 with 5 knockouts, Richardson is hoping to keep improving his record as he closes in at a shot for the Southern Area light middleweight title.

Tickets for Dean’s fight are priced at £35 Standing and £65 Ringside, and are available on 07702 887088.

Dean Richardson vs William-Warburton 8x3 Super Welterweight

Minibus Summer Driving Tips

Summer driving brings unique challenges to driving, more vehicles locally, children playing outside, more caravans, cyclists and motorcyclists. This all equates to journey times increasing and traffic jams becoming more likely.

Those who manage drivers must be aware of the issues and schedules should be planned accordingly. Planning journeys for the undoubted holiday traffic jams. There needs to be an increased focus on vehicle conditions and symmetric information provided to drivers on allergies preventing fatigue and minimising RSI- Repetitive strain injury.

Vehicle maintenance

Check coolant levels regularly throughout the summer.

Keep washer fluid full and additional bottles within the car or boot, to prevent minimised vision.

Check tyres for damage due to hot weather increasing the risk of a puncture.

Make sure there is a suitable tread depth of 1.6mm minimum for your car to avoid slippery road surfaces.

Ensure air conditioning is maintained to avoid fainting and a lack of concentration during driving.

Avoid the glare

Glare from the sun can cause road accidents due to the distraction and the reduced vision during trips wearing correct sunglasses can reduce the glare and keep drivers concentration up and their vision. If a driver requires prescription lenses their sunglasses should have the same prescription.

Some lenses will not be suitable for drivers as they don’t in adequate light or they will let in too much due to the limitations as a light transmission. They should not obstruct your periphery vision.

Warm Weather Fatigue

Drivers are more likely to feel fatigued in warmer weather. Tachograph controls will indicate when a commercial vehicle driver should take breaks but drivers without this must follow the upcoming recommendations.

Break a 3-hour journey with a 20-minute stop

Take regular breaks to refresh yourself preferably ever two hours for longer journeys

Avoid eating heavy before driving

Make sure you are wide awake and possibly drink coffee to keep your reactions to a normal speed

Allergy Time

Hay fever causes itchy and watery eyes decreasing vision and concentration, this can be a big distraction to drivers and even a millisecond of not looking at the road can cause fatal accidents. It is advisable to ask drivers who suffer from hay fever to follow steps to reduce the likelihood of an outburst.

Use non drowsy Antihistamines such as cetirizine

Dehydration can decrease awareness and even lead to fainting so always keep an extra bottle of water in your car.

Wear sunglasses when the sun impair your vision while also keeping the pollen away from your eyes

Keep windows closed and use air conditioning to keep the vehicle cool

Provide vehicle purifiers to reduce pollen particles

The Country code

If your routes include rural areas it is better to know about the country code

Tractors can turn erratically and do not need indicators for daytime driving

Tractors have front loaders so the length of the vehicle could be more than you anticipate

Mud tracks left on the ground by tractors can be extremely slippery after rain, take caution.

Summary of key points

Driving in the summer can increase hazards that you may not notice, this can create unique challenges. It is recommended that managers raise awareness for these issues to avoid accidents.

Consider to plan your journeys to avoid the holiday jam and avoid the long queues.

Check that your sunglasses are suitable and with the correct prescription if need be.

Suggest to drivers without tachographs to take regular breaks and remind them about fatigue and the prevention of this.

Maintain your vehicle keeping it in the best shape to avoid controversy and potential danger to you and other drivers.

Monitor pollen count forecasts and work with drivers to ensure they can handle their hay fever.

London Taxi Driver Dean Richardson returns for his 7th Professional fight

London taxi driver, Dean Richardson, returns to the ring at York Hall, Bethnal Green for his seventh pro fight.

Having won his first five fights by way of knockout, he was taken the distance for the first time in his last outing where he won by unanimous decision against Jan Balog.

Richardson’s next fight, which is on 19th May, will be a step up as he is scheduled to fight in his first 8-round bout.  Due to the early stoppages, he has only gone a maximum of four rounds, despite one bout being scheduled for six.

Winning this bout will take Dean another step closer to a fight for the Southern Area Light-Middleweight Title, which he hopes will be within his next two fights.

Tickets are priced at £40 Unreserved Seating, £65 Ringside and £100 VIP and are available on 07702 887088 or if you wish to pay by credit/debit card, please go to bit.ly/IBT-DRichardson

Dean Richardson Hears the Final Bell for the First Time in Career

London taxi driver, Dean Richardson, 22, was taken the full four-rounds by notoriously tough Jan Balog at York Hall, Bethnal Green on 16th February, where the South Ruislip boxer won by a score of 40-36. He now has a record of 6 fights with 6 wins, 5 of which coming by way of knockout.

Dean was in control for the whole contest over his Czech opponent and upped the pace in the final round, landing punishing body shots, to secure the win.

Also on the card, Light-heavyweight amateur world champion Willy Hutchinson got his 3rd win as a professional with a 6 rounder decision win and Olympic silver medallist Joe Joyce scored a first-round knockout to improve his record to 2-0 with 2 knockouts on the show which was promoted by David Haye’s Hayemaker Promotions.

Richardson is looking at boxing again on May 19th with further information to come.