Page 23 - Independent Schools Magazine
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loopholes, are as you can be?
A full D1 licence requires medical clearance including a sight test, theory and practical training, usually two or three days of training and costs on average £1500 per teacher/staff member, so it is understandable why schools may look for a solution that avoids spending budget on training.
Are teachers volunteer drivers?
‘You may not need a D1 licence if the minibus is not for ‘hire or reward’. You might be able to drive a minibus with up to 16 passenger seats using your current car driving licence as long as there’s no payment from or on behalf of the passengers (it’s not for ‘hire or reward’)’.
‘You’re driving on a voluntary basis and the minibus is used for social purposes by a non- commercial body’ www.gov.uk/driving-a-minibus.
Some schools and local authorities consider their staff to be volunteers when driving a
minibus, class themselves as non-commercial and that school trips are a social activity. This is where the interpretation of what is ‘for reward or hire’ can cause confusion.
Are teachers voluntary drivers? There has never been a legal test case. But those local authorities who have consulted solicitors have a clear answer on both counts.
Hertfordshire County Council
‘Our position is based on legal advice from the council’s solicitors taken in 2000, which has been reviewed periodically in 2006, 2010 and 2011. Their view continues to be that the only reason a teacher is driving a school minibus is because of their paid employment with that school. This includes driving outside of school hours and at weekends, since a teacher’s contract does not state daily hours of working, only an annual number of hours of “directed time”. They are therefore “receiving payment or consideration” since their salary cannot be considered “out of pocket expenses”.
Our former Director of Education wrote
to the DfES in 2002 about the matter
and the reply from the then Minister for Schools, concurred with our solicitor’s view that teachers needed to hold category D1 entitlement on their licence, they are not eligible for the exemptions that apply to the voluntary sector, and he could not see a case for exempting them. HCC’s view is shared by a number of other local authorities.’ (www.thegrid.org.uk/info/healthandsafety/minibus.shtml)
Bedford County Council
‘School trips are of cial school business. If a member of staff took some pupils as passengers in their private car, they would need business use insurance cover as it would not be covered by a social, domestic and pleasure policy.’ (www.bedford.gov.uk/transport_and_streets/road_safety/ useful__information_and_advice/minibus_advice_and_ guidance.aspx)
What is a light-weight minibus?
The other exception in the need for a D1 licence is vehicle weight and so some vehicle converters offer a ‘light-weight’ minibus which can carry 16 passengers with disabled access (weighing less than 4.25 tonnes) that is essentially a converted panel van with a basic ramp. They are not factory built and are missing heavier safety features like side impact protection. Neither does the weight-limit take into consideration
the minibus might be overweight with sports equipment and a rugby team.
So, a converted panel van with up to 16 passengers can be driven legally by anyone over 21 with a standard car licence, which I consider a potentially massive safety issue, but it is an option presented to schools as a viable alternative.
Inherited licences
If you passed your driving test before January 1997 you will have inherited your D1 licence
as part of that test, but there is a signi cant difference in driving a minibus four times the size of a car with four times the number of passengers. Just because you’re legal doesn’t necessarily mean you’re safe, many schools opt to send staff on MiDAS courses every four years, to get some experience driving a minibus, but it is not a legal requirement and doesn’t require a medical or sight check.
Because Castle Minibus delivers driver training we know what competence levels are required medically, theoretically and practically to pass the full D1 driver training test. Our business does focus on schools but our priority is safety and risk reduction for all road users. The Greater Than 8 campaign, launched this September, simply wants to bring the UK in line with the rest of Europe.
Join the Campaign
The Greater than 8 campaign aims to raise awareness of the safety issues, educate schools so they can make informed decisions and ultimately change the existing laws and make minibus safety a priority for all operators of 8+ passenger vehicles. The campaign includes bumper stickers for all Greater Than 8 schools (schools with a full D1 licence) a social media campaign, email and postal campaign to schools and colleges and an online petition to Chris Grayling, Secretary of State for Transport.
To sign the petition please visit http://bit.ly/greaterthan8petition or for more information and to claim your Greater Than 8 bumper sticker, to show your support and commitment to safety please call 01869 253744 or visit www.castleminibus.co.uk
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Independent Schools Magazine 23
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