The Nightcap branch of BUSK has launched a crowd funding appeal to raise £5,000 for a legal opinion as to whether tour operators have a case to answer to when they fail to provide adequate sleeping arrangements for coach drivers who are driving children on school trips abroad.
The legal opinion, which is being sought from Mike Imperato, BUSK’s lawyer at Watkins and Gunn, is twofold. Not only is it looking at the potential responsibility of the tour operator, it will question whether the School Travel Forum is failing in a duty of care if it does not advise its members, the tour companies, that they should ensure drivers are provided with suitable accommodation on school trips to enable them to rest and sleep properly.
Nightcap focusses on ensuring that drivers on school trips are given their own rooms to enable them to achieve a good night’s sleep, so that they remain alert when driving. Often drivers on overseas trips have to share rooms and it is not unusual on adventure holidays for drivers to have to sleep in tents.
A European Commission Report suggested that 30% of coach crashes were linked to driver fatigue. In 2016 a British coach driver fell asleep at the wheel and a subsequent crash resulted in the death of a teacher and serious injuries to a number of pupils.
Pat Harris, Director BUSK, emailed around 60 operators asking whether they provided single accommodation in a quiet area and a day bed for drivers following an overnight drive? The responses show that operators often take it for granted that their drivers will be properly provided for.
She said, ‘I think that all the coach companies that do school trips abroad and are concerned that their drivers do not get looked after the way they would like, should be supporting this. It is in the best interest of the industry as a whole that we ensure that those tour companies that force drivers to share rooms, sleep in tents and share shower blocks with kids are stopped and force them to take seriously their legal duty of care to provide suitable accommodation so drivers can rest, relax and sleep how they need to.’
To offer financial assistance, please visit https://www.crowdjustice.org/case/safer-coach-journeys/. They have until 07 April to reach the target set of £5000. All monies raised go directly to the solicitor and not to BUSK or Nightcap. If the target of £5,000 is not met within the deadline, the pledged amounts will not be taken from people’s credit or debit cards.
You can also support the cause by sharing the link on your social media platforms, both business and personal, to help create awareness.