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Minibus Vehicle Checks what to do

Posted by [email protected] on April 5, 2015 at 7:00 AM

Before driving a school minibus you need to be aware of the following: 

Volunteers who drive a school minibus are personally responsible for its roadworthiness. 

For this reason it is essential that there is a proper vehicle maintenance system in operation and that certain basic checks are made before each journey begins. 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. Driver checks should include:

• Vehicle road tax, (also Permit displayed if applicable)

• Fuel level, Oil level, Brake Fluid

• Tyres in good condition

• Windscreen wipers/ washers working

• Lights/brake lights working

• Indicators working

• Brakes (hand and pedal) working

• Fire extinguisher ( Extinguishers should comply with BS 5432 with a minimum test rating of 8A or 21B and

should contain water or foam or halon 1301 or 1211).

• Paperwork (insurance, driving licence)

• Seatbelts working properly

• Mobile phone available

• Fully stocked first aid kit (containing as a minimum : 10 foil packed antiseptic wipes; 1 conforming disposable bandage (7.5+ cm wide); triangular bandages; 1 packet of 24 assorted adhesive dressings; 3 large sterile unmedicated ambulance dressings (15 x 20 cm or more); 2 sterile eye pads and attachments; 12 assorted safety pins; 1 pair rustproof blunt-ended scissors; Sterile gloves and mouth masks. 

In addition to the above, there should also be a regular vehicle maintenance system in place to monitor more detailed mechanical matters such as tyre pressure, coolant level and brake fluid level. Check the handbook to satisfy yourself that these checks have also been recently undertaken so that you can be confident that the school minibus is safe before you set off. . 

Any defects found by the police if the vehicle is stopped, would be the responsibility of the driver who will personally receive any fine and / or subsequent points on their licence, or even prosecuted (depending on the seriousness of the offence). The driver would also be responsible for any road traffic offences committed. 

It is the driver's responsibility to make sure that the minibus insurance policy covers all the uses relevant to how the vehicle is being used. i.e the total number of passengers allowed, the total weight and all the people allowed to drive the minibus. 

Other useful equipment to carry in a minibus

• instructions and contact details for handling an emergency

• insurance policy details

• breakdown policy details, contact numbers etc

• mobile phone/phonecard/change for telephone - for emergencies

• high visibility coat (BS EN 471)

• portable flashing beacon

• working torch

• webbing cutter

• pen and paper 

Speed limits for minibuses(not towing a trailer) for A class roads (where a lower limit is not signposted ) is 50 mph. On a dual-carriageway the limit is 60 mph and 70 mph on motorways. When towing a trailer the limit on motorways is reduced to 60 m.p.h. It should also be noted that the outer (overtaking) lane of a three or four lane motorway must not be used when towing a trailer. 

That being said, from 1st January, 2007, there is a requirement for all diesel minibuses registered after 1st October 2001 to be fitted with a speed limiter restricting their maximum speed to 62mph. This was extended from 1st January 2008, after which date there was also be a requirement for all minibuses (petrol and diesel) registered after 1st January 2005 to be fitted with a speed limiter. 

By law, seat belts must be worn by drivers and passengers at all times. It is the responsibility of the driver to ensure that all passengers comply with this regulation. New seat belt laws require children under 135cm to wear child restraints in addition to seat belts. Driver responsibilities will vary depending on the type of minibus driven. 

Ignorance to these seat belt laws will result in a new offence being committed, especially introduced for drivers of buses, coaches and minibuses. Drivers failing their passenger responsibilities can either expect to receive a £30 fixed penalty notice or a maximum fine of up to £500 if the case goes to court. Minibus owners and operators could also be fined a maximum of £2,500. 

A fire extinguisher and first aid kit must always be carried; 

Alcohol is illegal on buses going to and from sporting fixtures. 

Side lights must be on when the minibus is parked on the street at night 

Horns and reversing bleepers must not be used between 11.30 pm and 7.00 am (except on major roads).


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