Page 19 - Independent Schools Magazine
P. 19

D1 or not D1? – That is the question
Should NON D1 holders be allowed to drive a school minibus? John Couppleditch, Sales Director for Eva Minibus examines the issue in more detail.
During conversations with schools it is still evident that opinion is split about allowing members of staff without a D1 to drive a minibus.
A D1 category on the driving licence allows the holder to drive a vehicle capable of carrying 9-16 passengers.
Those passing their driving test after 1st January 1997 will not have D1 on their licence. Year on year there are more drivers within schools without D1 (Anyone 38 and under).
Can a minibus be driven without a D1?
According to “You might be able to drive a minibus if you hold a car driving licence and meet certain conditions – otherwise you’ll need to apply for a minibus 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’)”.
Conditions you must meet
You can drive a minibus within the UK as long as the following conditions apply:
• you’re 21 or older
• you’ve had your driving licence for at least 2 years
• medically  t
• you’re driving on a voluntary basis and the
minibus is used for social purposes by a non-
commercial body
• the maximum weight of the minibus is not
more than 3.5 tonnes – or 4.25 tonnes including specialist equipment for disabled passengers, for example a wheelchair ramp
• no towing
Let’s focus on minibus weight
The 3.5 or 4.25 tonnes they refer to is the gross vehicle weight – The maximum weight that
the vehicle is allowed to operate at, including passengers, fuel and luggage.
You should be mindful of available payload when operating a minibus.
The payload is the difference between the unladen weight of the vehicle and the gross vehicle weight.
Let’s look at an example of
a 15 seat minibus at 3.5t GVW
If you subtract the actual vehicle weight from the 3.5t GVW allowance you are left with approximately 70kgs average payload per seat (including the driver).
Considering luggage or sports kit, you can see that in the case of teenage students you will easily risk operating that vehicle as overweight.
This weight issue can be addressed either by reducing the number of seats – 14 including driver would be more comfortable. Or you can operate a 17 seat minibus by using the increased
weight allowable if the bus is adapted for occasional wheelchair use (removable rear seats and a lift or ramp).
Let’s now concentrate on the
voluntary driver condition
Schools must take a cautious approach to the ‘voluntary driver’ angle for the following reasons.
The fact that the member of staff is not being paid ,that driving is not in their job description, that they may be driving in their own time does not make it driving on a voluntary basis.
The derogation from the D1 requirement was created to avoid penalising NON D1holders who wanted to give their time for a charity group. This is different from an employed teacher driving students to a  xture as part of their job.
The Road Traf c Act, uses two key words ‘cause and permit’. The fact you have ‘allowed’ the school employee to drive the minibus creates an occupational driving relationship between the school and the driver.
Until there is a test case to de ne whether driving for a school, even when employed is classed as voluntary I believe that schools are operating at risk if they allow non D1 drivers to drive minibuses.
Schools should be managing all risks relating to drivers, vehicles, and journeys. EVA are offering free compliance audits for schools running minibuses to ensure they are operating as safely as possible and allowing your pupils to gain access to some fantastic external learning opportunities.
  5 reasons why you should use EVA for your school’s transport:
• We o er  exible buying and leasing terms
• As well as short term rental
• We provide fully inclusive
D1 Training courses
• We o er fully accredited MIDAS
 Contact us now - t. 0844 414 2906 - e.
  Transport, Trips & Travel 19

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