‘Now is the time…’
BUSK, the organisation promoting safe road transport for children, has launched ‘Now is the time…’, a new initiative urging for measures to ensure that voluntary operated buses are regulated properly. The project also calls for drivers to be licensed by the DVLA with a requirement to be medically fit with follow up medical checks every five years and eye tests every two years. The campaign was launched on the 20th anniversary of a tragic minibus crash, which saw 12 school children lose their lives, as well as the death of a school teacher, who was driving under a Permit 19 licence. The minibus collided with a motorway maintenance vehicle on the hard shoulder of the M40.
Over 20 years ago, the UK refused when all other EU member states at the time agreed regulation was necessary on grounds of passenger safety. BUSK claims around 140,000 buses are driven in the UK on a voluntary basis using a Permit 19 licence and criticises the fact that holders of this licence are not required to have a medical to ensure they are fit to drive, whilst commercial bus drivers do.
BUSK’s Director, Pat Harris, said, ‘No regulating body monitors any of these Permit 19 minibus operations once they are up and running and that is no longer acceptable. The UK government could have prevented the M40 crash by ending this two-tier system if it had signed the agreement but instead it failed to put children’s safety first. Its continued failure to protect passengers is a disgrace and is no longer acceptable.’