Bicester based Castle Minibus has launched a campaign aiming to make all drivers of vehicles with over eight passengers required to pass their full D1 driver training test. The Greater Than 8 safety initiative has been launched with an online petition to Chris Grayling MP, Secretary of State for Transport. The D1 licence was introduced in 1997 after 12 children and their teacher lost their lives in a minibus crash on the M40. But there is still confusion and legal loop-holes, according to the campaign, so it wants to bring the UK in line with Europe by changing the law to require all drivers of eight or more passengers to pass the full D1 driver training test.
Currently there are exceptions for volunteer drivers, social purposes and vehicles under certain weights, which means organisations like schools and community groups that use minibuses, may choose to drive up to 16 passengers without any medical checks or additional training, which the campaign argues puts the lives of their passengers and other road users at risk. Castle Minibus wants the law changed to remove all exceptions so no teacher involved in a collision becomes the legal test case as to whether they were a volunteer driver or not.
Castle Minibus offers minibus leasing, rentals and driver training specifically for the education sector across the UK. According to the company, where minibuses and licences are concerned there is conflicting advice from minibus suppliers, panel van convertors and different requirements across the local authorities because of exceptions and confused interpretations of the law. These, it claims, result in grey areas, exposing schools to unintentional risk both physically and legally. MD of Castle Minibus, Chris Maynard, believes that regardless of the type of vehicle, school or organisation, the safest option is a fully trained D1 licence holder (with a certificate of professional competence CPC if they are employed as a paid driver), whose practical skills are assessed at least every three years. The vehicle itself should be a factory built minibus not a lightweight converted panel van.
Chris said: “The D1 licencing rules are a real fog especially for teachers and schools, the crux of the issue focuses on whether teachers can be classed as volunteer drivers and weights of vehicles. We want to raise awareness and best practice which is for all drivers of eight-plus passengers to have taken the medical, sight, theory and practical tests required by the full D1 licence.
“The Greater Than 8 campaign aims to raise awareness of the safety issues, clarify and change the existing laws and make minibus safety a priority for all operators of eight-plus vehicles. Obviously, we would be delighted to be the D1 training provider for every minibus driver in the UK but what is more important to us is that anyone driving eight-plus passengers is fully trained, safe and legal.”
For more information on Greater Than 8, visit W greaterthan8.org
The Greater Than 8 online petition can be found here:
- The Greater Than 8 campaign has two main aims:
- To raise awareness of the risks associated with not having a full D1 licence holder driving minibuses, whether for schools or communities; no medical checks, eye tests, theory or practical training.
- Petition the government to remove the exceptions of volunteer drivers and weight limits of the vehicle, so ALL drivers of eight-plus passengers must hold a full D1 licence.