SAFETY ON SCHOOL MINIBUSES
NUT HEALTH AND SAFETY BRIEFING
This document outlines the key legal requirements for drivers and operators of school minibuses and describes the support teachers should be given before they agree to drive a school minibus.
Minibuses are a valuable asset to those schools which are fortunate enough to own or have use of one. They allow pupils access to the many benefits of out-of-school activities. Driving a minibus is not, however, a task to be undertaken lightly – the safety of pupils and staff should always be the first consideration. Employers are required to provide a safe place of work. This includes ensuring that any minibus an employee drives, is safe.
Teachers cannot be required to drive a school minibus. Teachers who volunteer to do so, however, should take careful note of the advice in this document.
GENERAL LEGAL REQUIREMENTS
Every minibus must:
· be correctly licenced;
· display a valid tax disc for the correct category of vehicle;
· be adequately insured;
· be well maintained; and
· have a valid MOT certificate, if more than 1 year old
THE DRIVER’S RESPONSIBILITIES
A teacher who volunteers to act as driver of a school minibus is personally responsible for its roadworthiness. If any defects are found by the police or the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA), it is the driver who will be prosecuted. The driver is also responsible for any road traffic offences committed. The minibus insurance policy should cover:
· all the uses to which the minibus is put;
· the total number of passengers allowed and the total weight; and
· all the people allowed to drive the minibus.
Comprehensive cover is required to ensure that teachers are not liable for any damage which they may cause to the minibus itself as well as to other vehicles.
TRAINING FOR MINIBUS DRIVERS
Teachers should only agree to drive a minibus if they have received proper training. The NUT recommends, in line with Community Transport Association advice, that refresher training should be provided at least every 4 years. Even teachers who have received such training cannot, however, be required to drive a minibus. Trained drivers are safer drivers. Driving a minibus is significantly different from driving a car. Driver training should normally include:
· familiarisation with the vehicle;
· simple vehicle checks to be conducted before each journey (see next section);
· emergency procedures;
· passenger care, including disability awareness;
· use of seatbelts/harnesses, etc;
· use of passenger lifts or ramps, if relevant;
· loading/unloading and securing of wheelchairs;
· journey planning; and
· road assessment on the types of road the driver is likely to use, for example, motorways, dual carriageways, urban/rural roads etc.
Practice circuits around the school playground clearly do not constitute proper training. Many local education authorities provide accredited training schemes for minibus drivers, including essential refresher training every 4 years, or more often if an incident merits it (for example if a driver is convicted of a traffic offence, or is involved in a blameworthy collision). One of these is the Minibus Driver Awareness Scheme (MiDAS) operated by the Community Transport Association (CTA). Contact your NUT health and safety adviser, division secretary or your NUT regional or Wales Office for details. Contact details for the CTA are listed at the end of this document.
SAFETY CHECKS ON SCHOOL MINIBUSES
Teachers who drive school minibuses should not be expected to act as mechanics; there should always be a proper vehicle maintenance system in operation. Since drivers will be legally responsible for vehicle defects, however, a basic pre-drive safety check is essential. A checklist should be kept in the vehicle and teachers should always check:
· the location of relevant paperwork (insurance, driving licence);
· all doors (including emergency doors) - unlocked but firmly shut;
· tyres - for damage, wear, pressure and the security of wheels;
· exterior bodywork for damage (including glass);
· light lenses, reflectors, mirrors and number plate (for damage and cleanliness);
· presence of a valid Tax Disc and if applicable, Section 19 Permit;
· Disabled Passenger Vehicle class (DPV) shown where applicable;
· condition and operation of all seatbelts - vehicle not to be used otherwise;
· all fluid levels - fuel, oil, coolant, brake / clutch, windscreen washer - verifying that there are no leaks;
· interior condition of vehicle - cleanliness, damage and secure stowage of loose items;
· seat anchorage, tail-lifts and any securing devices (accessible vehicles)
· PSV first aid kit;
· fire extinguisher(s) (foam or water) (if passengers in wheelchairs are being carried, there must be two);
· position of driving seat and mirrors;
· operation of lights, indicators, washers, horn, ventilation and any switches;
· operation of handbrake and footbrake;
· that passengers and driver are wearing their seatbelts;
· on moving off, the operation of steering, footbrake and speedometer; and
· whilst driving, gauges are working and no warning lights appear and no excessive engine exhaust smoke is present;
· first aid kit.
The regular vehicle maintenance system should monitor more detailed mechanical matters. If there appear to be any faults which might affect the passengers’ safety, then the vehicle should not be used until they are all remedied. According to the Belt Up School Kids (BUSK) campaign, the commonest fault affecting minibuses, particularly twin rear wheel minibuses, is under-inflated tyres. Where access to rear tyre valves is difficult, the fitting of extension valves is a cheap and effective solution.
DRIVING LICENCE REQUIREMENTS FOR MINIBUS DRIVERS
Any driver who passed the car driving test before 1 January 1997 automatically gained a licence with Category B and D1 entitlement, or Groups A and B on older licences, qualifying the driver to drive minibuses as well as private cars.
Any driver who passes the car driving test on or after 1 January 1997 no longer automatically gains a licence with Category D1 minibus entitlement. Such a driver must pass the additional Category D1 tests to drive minibuses, together with the standard relevant theory tests (four separate modules) and a medical examination. The NUT believes that if teachers are willing to do this, their school or local authority should make all the necessary arrangements and meet the costs of the training, test and medical report. Paid time off should be given for all these matters.
PERMIT REQUIREMENTS FOR SCHOOL MINIBUSES
Minibus and Community Bus Permits (“Section 19 permits”) are issued to organisations concerned with education, social welfare or other activities of benefit to the community. They allow certain organisations, including schools, to make a charge without having to comply with the full public service vehicle operator requirements and without the need for the driver to have a full PCV, Category D1 or D, licence.
Schools must hold a ‘Section 19 permit’ if minibus journeys are funded (including voluntary contributions) by outside sources such as parents or parent teacher associations. Section 19 permits may be obtained from your local authority or VOSA.
Contact details for VOSA can be found on the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency website: http://www.vosa.gov.uk/
Teachers may be held personally liable if they drive a minibus without such a permit where one is required. Only non-profit making charges, such as for the recovery of running costs including depreciation, may be made under a Section 19 permit.
All teachers who drive a minibus must, by law:
· ensure a permit has been obtained if one is needed, and displayed on the windscreen;
· hold the appropriate full driving licence to do so;
· be at least 21 years old;
· be insured to drive the vehicle in question;
· not drive a minibus with more than 16 passenger seats; and
· have held a full driving licence for at least two years when driving a minibus under a Section 19 permit.
All drivers must comply with any additional requirements imposed by the local education authority, school or insurers. These may relate in particular to training, age, or length of qualification to drive.
NUMBER OF DRIVERS
There is no legal requirement for a second driver but the NUT recommends that, other than on the shortest journeys, a second trained driver should accompany every teacher driving a minibus. This will help cover emergency situations and prevent tiredness on long journeys. Even on short journeys, a second adult acting as a supervisor is likely to be required. Exceptions might be where a teacher is driving a group of post-16 students for a short distance.
If there are two trained drivers available and only one is a teacher, it is recommended that, for short journeys, the non-teacher drives and the teacher supervises. A second driver, acting as supervisor, will help to ensure that passengers are well behaved and that they do not distract the driver and will also assist in the event of any emergency. Insurance policies may also specify a requirement for a supervisor.
It is also recommended that a mobile telephone be carried in all minibuses to cover emergency situations. This must not, however, be used by the driver while driving the vehicle.
TRAVELLING WITH SEN PUPILS
Particular consideration needs to be given to minibus journeys involving pupils with special needs. The minibus itself must be suitable for the needs of all passengers, including those with disabilities.
As a general rule, it is recommended that journeys involving groups of special needs children should have a minimum of two staff, in addition to the driver. A risk assessment undertaken in advance of the the trip will enable a decision on staffing levels to be made.
The children may have a wide range of needs which could include physical, mental, emotional, medical, behavioural and learning difficulties. Crisis situations, including epileptic fits, challenging behaviour, breathing difficulties and tantrums are just as likely to occur on the minibus as anywhere else. Consideration should also be given to the possibility that children may undo their seatbelts and attempt to escape out of the nearest exit. To avoid this happening, children can be sat in window seats so as to delay any movement towards the aisle and a member of staff can sit next to the exit.
Passengers in wheelchairs should be afforded the same level of safety as all other passengers. Ensuring that this is the case is equally important when using a hired minibus. All drivers and escorts should be trained in the care of passengers in wheelchairs, including use of passenger lifts and ramps and, where the wheelchair user needs to remain in the wheelchair for the journey, securing the wheelchair. Unoccupied wheelchairs, walking frames, and crutches must also be secured.
All school minibuses should be covered by a breakdown recovery service. The NUT recommends that details should be readily accessible in the minibus. In addition, drivers should be able to access guidance on what to do while awaiting recovery including in what circumstances passengers should remain/not remain in the vehicle.
Anyone who is at risk from moving vehicles should wear a high visibility jacket. This is a requirement under the Personal Protection Equipment at Work Regulations 1992.
In the event of a vehicle breakdown, ROSPA advises that:
· The driver should move the vehicle off the carriageway (onto the hard shoulder on a motorway) and switch on the hazard warning lights. If this is not possible, it should be moved as far away from moving traffic as possible. If a warning triangle is used, it should be placed on the same side of the road, at least 45 metes from the minibus. Always take great care when placing and retrieving a warning triangle and never use them on the motorway.
· The passengers should be moved out of the nearside of the vehicle and as far away from it and other traffic as possible. No one should stand between the vehicle and oncoming traffic. On motorways or other busy roads passengers should be taken onto the embankment or grass margin and as far from the traffic as is practicable. The hard shoulder on a motorway is very dangerous.
· Passengers should be kept together in one group. Children shoud be kept calm and under constant supervision.
· In some circumstances, it is safer to leave the passengers in the vehicle. For example, if it seems too dangerous to unload passengers in wheelchairs or if there is not a safe waiting area. The driver will need to assess the situation and decide whether or not to unload passengers.
SEATBELTS IN MINIBUSES
Minibuses Registered Before 1 October 2001
When the main purpose of the trip is to transport three or more children, minibuses registered before 1 October 2001 must have a forward-facing seat for each child, fitted with either a three-point seatbelt or a lap belt. If there are also side or rear-facing seats in the minibus, the children must only use the forward-facing seats. If adult passengers are carried, they may sit in side or rear-facing seats, but it is much safer not to use side-facing seats. If seats are fitted with integral seatbelts, the seats and their anchorages are considered as part of the seatbelt anchorage system, and must conform to the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986, as amended.
Minibuses Registered On or After 1 October 2001
All minibuses registered on or after 1 October 2001, whether they carry child or adult passengers, must have forward-facing or rearward-facing seats. Minibuses up to 3.5 tonnes gross vehicle weight, except those designed for urban use with standing passengers, or those manufactured six months before that date, must have inertia reel three-point seatbelts in forward-facing seats, and inertia reel three-point seatbelts or retractable lap belts in rearward-facing seats. Alternatively, disabled persons seatbelts, or child restraints, may be fitted. If seats are fitted with integral seatbelts, the seats and their anchorages are considered as part of the seatbelt anchorage system, and must conform to the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986, as amended.
Sharing of Seats
The “3 for 2” concession, which allowed three children under the age of 14 to share a double seat in a minibus or coach, no longer applies. Each child must occupy one seat with a seatbelt.
Use of Seat Belts and Child Restraints
Drivers must wear a seat belt.
Passengers in the front seats, and any exposed seat, must use seat belts or an appropriate child care restraint. In these seats, the driver is responsible for ensuring that:
· Children under three years of age use an appropriate child restraint;
· Children aged from three years up to their 12th birthday, and under 1.35 metres (approx 4’5”) tall use an appropriate child restraint if available, or if not available, wear the seat belt; and
· Children aged 12 and 13 years (and young children who are 1.35 metres or taller) use the seat belt.
Passengers aged 14 years or more travelling in the front seats, or any exposed seat, must wear a seat belt and are personally responsible for doing so.
Passengers sitting in the rear of minibuses that have an unladen weight of 2,540 KG or less must wear seat belts or use an appropriate child restraint. It is the driver’s responsibility to ensure that:
· Children under three years of age use an appropriate child restraint
· Children aged from three years up to their 12th birthday, and under 1.35 metres (approx 4’5”) tall, use an appropriate child restraint if available, or if not available, wear the seat belt
· Children aged 12 and 13 years (and younger children who are 1.35 metres or taller) use the seat belt.
Passengers 14 years or over must wear seat belts and are personally responsible for doing so.
Type of Belt
Three-point seatbelts provide better protection than lap belts, although lap belts are better than none at all. Lap belts should be worn over the pelvis, not the stomach, and worn as tightly as possible.
Installing seatbelts to existing minibuses
For many years minibuses have been fitted with seatbelts, initially lap belts and more recently lap and diagonal seatbelts. An operator must not use a minibus without seatbelts being provided for children or young people. It should be noted too that the cost of installing seatbelts to minibuses which lack them is likely to be prohibitive. It is clearly preferable for schools to purchase minibuses with seatbelts fitted at the time of manufacture.
Purchasing a Minibus
When schools buy a minibus, it is strongly recommended that a purpose-built vehicle is chosen rather than a converted van. The problem with converted vans is that they are not necessarily designed for the weight that may be carried, particularly if pupils are in wheelchairs. This can contribute to accidents. The NUT is aware that on occasions schools are offered converted vehicles from charities. Rather than accepting such a vehicle, schools would be better off accepting a cash donation and putting it towards a proper minibus.
SCHOOL BUS SIGNS
Minibuses carrying children on a school-related activity are required by law to display retro reflective School Bus signs.
Front: at least 25cm x 25 cm Rear: at least 45 cm x 45 cm
Legally, the driver is responsible for displaying these signs.
All International Journeys
A tachograph must be fitted and used for international journeys. Drivers must be trained in the use of the tachograph as misuse may lead to prosecution or spot fines. Drivers’ Hours Regulations must be followed from the start of the journey in the UK. Follow `Drivers’ Hours and Tachograph Rules for Road Passenger Vehicles in the UK and Europe’ (PSV375), available from the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA) on (0870) 6060440.
Driving licence requirements and laws about drivers’ hours vary in countries outside the EU. Regulations about what emergency equipment must be carried on the minibus also vary; for instance, a warning triangle must be carried in some countries. The Operator should consult one of the main motoring UK organisations or the country’s Embassy or consulate in London for further advice.
The Operator should also consult the vehicle’s insurers regarding insurance cover for the journey and for the countries to be visited.
Note: Section 19 Small Bus Permits are not valid abroad. The driver must hold a full PCV licence if any payment is made by passengers for the trip i.e. where it constitutes `Hire and Reward’. Hire or Reward embraces any payment - in money or kind - which gives a person a right, or expectation, to be carried regardless of whether a profit is made or not. This payment may be a direct payment made by the person themselves, or on their behalf - such as a fare, a grant or even a donation to the operator. It may include other things in addition to the cost of travel - e.g. membership fees, grants, payments for access to specific events etc. Although such indirect payments are usually made in respect of other services, rather than for transport, they are nonetheless viewed by the courts as hire or reward because anyone who had not made the payment would have no right to be carried.
If the bus is owned, an ‘Own Account’ certificate should be used for trips within the EU. If the vehicle is hired, then a ‘Waybill’ must be used instead of the Own Account certificate.
Left-dipping head lights are not permitted abroad. There are a variety of adaptors that can be used.
Documentation for International Journeys
Operators must ensure that all the necessary documentation for journeys abroad is carried. The requirements may vary according to the country or countries being visited and further advice should be obtained. Some or all of the documents/items below will be required.
· Full driving licence with appropriate entitlement.
· International Driving Permit or translation of licence (for some countries).
· Full passport for everyone in the vehicle.
· European Health Insurance Cards (EHICs) for everyone in the vehicle. This card replaces the E111 card and entitles the holder to reduced cost, sometimes free, medical treatment that becomes necessary while in an European Economic Area (EEA) country or Switzerland. The EEA consists of EU countries plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. Switzerland applies the EHIC arrangements through a separate agreement with the EU.
· A ‘Restricted Operators’ Licence if charges to passengers exceed exact costs incurred.
· A letter of authority (‘attestation’) to drive the minibus from the vehicle owner (not a hire company)
· Valid tax disc for the correct category of vehicle.
· GB plate.
· Current MOT certificate (minibuses require a MOT certificate if more than one year old).
· Tachograph charts or rolls, and digital tachograph driver card for digital tachograph use.
· Waybill (if a hired vehicle is used) or an Own Account Certificate (if the vehicle is owned) provided journey is non profit-making.
· Model Control Document.
· Vehicle Registration Document (V5 in original form).
· Green card (international motor insurance certificate).
· If any payment is made by or on behalf of passengers – a full PCV driving licence.
· A first aid kit is required in many European countries. A standard British one is acceptable which is in any case required in the UK by the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986.
· A warning triangle is compulsory. In Spain two triangles must be carried.
Further information about any of the above requirements can be obtained from the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) on 0870 240 0009.
WORKLOAD AND SAFETY CONSIDERATIONS
The NUT has devoted considerable effort to its campaigns to reduce the pressures and stresses of excessive workload and administrative burdens upon teachers. Driving a school minibus contributes to these pressures. In addition, the growing volume of traffic on Britain’s roads means that the pressures of driving itself have increased recently.
There are also obvious safety issues with regard to travelling in school minibuses. In particular, if you have been involved either in supervising a visit or in teaching throughout the day, you should consider very carefully whether you are sufficiently alert to drive a minibus. Tired drivers are much much more likely to have an accident. You should always observe the Highway Code recommendation of at least a 15 minute break after every 2 hours of driving. Times and lengths of breaks should be noted in a log book. Drivers who drive for more than 2 hours after a day’s work are significantly more likely to be involved in a road traffic accident.
The NUT is not advising members generally that they should not under any circumstances drive school minibuses. The NUT does, however, strongly advise members to respond appropriately to changed attitudes and circumstances. You should consider very carefully your willingness to drive a school minibus.
In particular the NUT advises that:
· it is preferable, on the basis of both safety and workload issues, that minibus driving is undertaken by individuals who are specifically employed for that role rather than by teachers;
· only where you are certain that the burden of driving the minibus will not lead to undesirable pressures or to unacceptable risks to health and safety should you agree to drive school minibuses;
· if you are prepared to agree to drive minibuses, you should only do so where you hold the specific licence necessary, Category D1 driving licence entitlement and have received approved training specifically for minibus driving from the local authority or other appropriate provider;
· even where you hold the required licence, you should not regard yourself as sufficiently skilled to drive school minibuses without appropriate recent experience of driving vehicles of this kind;
· the Union believes that all local authorities should provide the opportunity of appropriate training to teachers who do express a willingness to drive minibuses. The best-known training scheme is the MIDAS scheme (Minibus Drivers Awareness Scheme) organised by the Community Transport Association. Details of this scheme can be found on the CTAS website at http://www.ctauk.org/.
You should note that, in addition to meeting licensing requirements, you must also comply with any additional requirements imposed by the local authority or school or their insurers. These may relate in particular to training, age or years of qualification to drive. Where any such conditions exist, you should under no circumstances breach these, since doing so could nullify insurance policies and could also lead to disciplinary action by employers.
Further advice and guidance on all of the above is available from the list below.
1. The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA)
Any teachers who are in doubt about their licensing position can telephone the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency’s Customer Enquiries, whose staff will be able to help. The telephone number is 0870 240 0009. Lines are open from 8.00 a.m. to 8.30 p.m., Monday to Friday. An interactive VOICE system is in operation but it is possible to speak to an operator during office hours. Further information is available on their website at http://www.dvla.gov.uk/.
2. The Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA)
3. The Appropriate NUT Regional Office or the NUT Cymru Office
4. The Community Transport Association (CTA)
The CTA provides an Advice and Information Service on 0845 130 6195. Their website is at http://www.ctauk.org/.
5. Minibus Safety – A Code of Practice
This publication was produced by a working group with representatives from Government, The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) and the Community Transport Association, amongst others. Contact: The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, RoSPA House, 28 Calthorpe Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham B15 1RP, telephone 0121 248 2000. Website: www.rospa.com.
NUT Health & Safety Unit
APPENDIX 1: MINIBUSES AND ROAD SPEED LIMITERS
NUT HEALTH AND SAFETY UPDATE
The following points have been set out to clarify the current position regarding minibuses and road speed limiters. Where speed limiters are legally required, they will restrict the maximum powered speed of the minibus to 62 mph (100km/h).
For those minibuses first used before 1 October 2001, there is no requirement to fit a speed limiter.
Minibuses registered between 1 October 2001 and 31 December 2004 (inclusive) – not exceeding 10,000kgs and capable of seating more than eight passengers – will also need a road speed limiter if they run on diesel. Minibuses in this category should have been fitted with speed limiters from 1 January 2006 if used on international journeys; while those restricted to UK-only journeys must have had a speed limiter fitted by 1 January 2007.
Minibuses with more than 8 passenger seats (regardless of weight) registered on or after 1 January 2005, will be required to be fitted with a road speed limiter from new. A speed limiter will not be required until January 2008, however, for minibuses not exceeding 5,000kgs and used solely on UK journeys.
Points to Note
If a vehicle has, or is required to have, a speed limiter fitted and working, then it is not permitted to use the outside lane of a three or more lane motorway. If the vehicle is required to have a speed limiter fitted but it is not working, it will be illegal to use it on the public highway under the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986.
Some local authorities may impose speed limits across all minibuses in line with the speed limiter Directive.
Further information can be found on the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA) website at:
NUT Health and Safety Unit
ROAD SPEED LIMITERS ‘AT A GLANCE’ SUMMARY OF LEGISLATION
Passenger vehicles up to 10 tonnes maximum gross vehicle weight (GVW)
TYPE OF VEHICLE
Date from which road speed limiter (RSL) must be fitted
Minibus first used before 1 October 2001
No speed limiter required
Petrol or LPG minibus first used on or after 1 October 2001, but before 1 January 2005.
No speed limiter required
Diesel minibus first used on or after 1 October 2001, but before 1 January 2005. UK and international journeys.
Speed limiter required to be fitted to all ‘Euro 3’ engines by 1 January 2006.
Diesel minibus first used on or after 1 October 2001, but before 1 January 2005. UK journeys only.
Speed limiter required to be fitted to all ‘Euro 3’ engines by 1 January 2007.
Minibus first used on or after 1 January 2005, regardless of fuel type. Vehicle weight greater than 5,000 kg.
Speed limiter must be fitted from new.
Minibus first used on or after 1 January 2005, regardless of fuel type. Vehicle weight not exceeding 5,000 kg. UK and international operations.
Speed limiter must be fitted from new.
Minibus first used on or after 1 January 2005, regardless of fuel type. Vehicle weight not exceeding 5,000 kg. UK use only.
Speed limiter must be fitted by 1 January 2008.
For diesel-powered minibuses first registered between 1 October 2001 and 31 December 2004, the type of diesel engine fitted will need to be identified by checking the engine code. Minibuses with a diesel engine compliant to Euro 3 and above must have a road speed limiter fitted by 1 January 2007. VOSA has produced a list of minibuses registered in this period which do not have a Euro 3 diesel engine (tested to 88/77) and will actually be exempt.
Make Model Exempt engine types
Citroën Relay All except 2.8 Hdi engine
Fiat Ducato 2.0 engine with JTD marked on VIN plate
Ford Transit All
Nissan Interstar F9Q engine
Nissan Primaster All
Peugeot Boxer All except 2.8 Hdi engine
Renault Master F9Q engine
Renault Trafic All
Vauxhall Movano E, F, G, J, K, L, M, N, P, T or W as the 7th VIN character
Vauxhall Vivaro All
Volkswagen All except 2.5 l/2.8 l 109 bhp/158 bhp engine codes
(AVR & AUH respectively)
APPENDIX 2: MINIBUSES AND TRAILERS
NUT HEALTH AND SAFETY UPDATE
The towing of trailers by minibuses raises a number of safety issues that need to be addressed.
1. Minibus Construction and Use legislation requires access to and through passenger entrances and emergency exits. It is important that the trailer does not prevent the rear doors from opening, and allows passengers sufficient space in an emergency. An unobstructed gangway of at least 300mm should suffice.
2. Any driver intending to drive a minibus with a trailer should first ensure that the appropriate licence is held.
3. The maximum weight of trailer that can be towed is governed by the unladen weight of the tow vehicle. A DVLA leaflet on this topic, Driving Licensing Requirements for Towing Trailers in Great Britain (INF30) can be obtained from www.dvla.gov.uk. This leaflet also explains the licence category requirements involved when towing a trailer. Further information is also available at www.direct.gov.uk/motoring.
4. The manner in which the trailers load is distributed should be considered, to ensure stability and load security when being towed.
5. Trailer checks, coupling/uncoupling and knowledge of trailer rules are all essential prerequisites for any kind of trailer use.
6. No driver should attempt to tow a trailer with a minibus without appropriate experience/training. Many local authorities provide the relevant training. Also the Caravan Club offers training courses - details from www.caravanclub.co.uk.
Notwithstanding the above points, the NUT would advise its members to think very carefully before attempting to tow a trailer in this way. Due to the space constraints within a minibus and the need to maintain gangway access through the vehicle to both entrances/exits, the need for space to stow luggage/equipment is understandable. There are, however, alternatives to towing a trailer. These would include:
· a roof rack, in which case roof load capacity and the stability of the vehicle must be considered; or
· the use of an additional vehicle - which does of course involve staffing and cost implications.
Ultimately, the decision to tow a trailer should only be considered following a proper risk assessment, conducted by a suitably qualified person. If in doubt, don’t tow it.
 Where a minibus is used for the solely for the transportation of mentally or physically disabled students, it may qualify for licensing in the DPV taxation class - which exempts it from road tax.
 See DfEE Guidance on First Aid for Schools: A Good Practice Guide at http://media.education.gov.uk/assets/files/pdf/g/gfas.pdf
 Passenger Carrying Vehicle