BUSK promotes Claire’s Charter

BUSK, the organisation promoting the safe bus and coach transportation of children, has launched Claire’s Charter.

The Charter is a series of points schools sign up to in order to demonstrate they take their safety duties seriously. It is aimed at highlighting to parents, schools, child associated groups and all volunteer drivers, the importance of understanding the law surrounding a minibus operation, the law for drivers of minibuses and to press government to introduce measures to ensure all minibus drivers meet the requirements of a commercial operation. BUSK believes it is the only way to ensure the safety of, not just the pupils, but also the teachers.

The name of the Charter comes from Claire Fitzgerald, one of the 12 children that died in the Hagley Roman Catholic School minibus crash. The tragic event, which last month reached its 25th anniversary, also saw the driver of the vehicle, teacher Eleanor Fry, lose her life. Eleanor fell asleep while driving, crashing into a maintenance lorry that was on the hard shoulder. Two more teachers in a second minibus some distance behind the first minibus, drove past, not stopping in an effort to prevent the pupils on their bus witnessing the distressing scene.

But 25 years on, Liz and Steve Fitzgerald, Claire’s parents, maintain that in many cases children are not any safer today than they were all those years ago when they lost their daughter.

Pat Harris, Director of BUSK said, “I firmly believe that no teacher should be put in a situation where they are asked to drive a minibus unless they are properly trained and licensed to do so.”

Points on the Charter include:

• Never asking teachers to drive minibuses in addition to other duties during or after the working day.

• Recognising that driving is working, and all time spent working affects the ability to drive safely. Including all working hours when considering the length of the working day is crucial.

• Holding an Operator’s licence and employing the services of a qualified transport manager.

• Ensuring that all teachers and volunteer drivers of a minibus with up to 16 passenger seats hold a PSV licence and CPC certification.

• Training drivers in all aspects of safe transport, including the drivers’ own responsibilities under health and safety and road traffic legislation, seat belt legislation and contingency planning.

• Ensuring the young passengers they transport understand and can implement the safety rules.

• Ensuring that a minimum of one responsible adult travels in the minibus in addition to the driver on all trips.

• Maintaining a safety recording system, including six monthly checks on and copies of all drivers’ driving licences.

• Only drivers with a clean driving licence should be permitted to drive children.


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