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Minibus advice and guidance

All drivers employed by Bedford Borough Council need to hold category D1 minibus entitlement on their driving licence.

'Minibus' definition

A minibus is defined as a Passenger Carrying Vehicle with 9 to 16 passenger seats, plus the driver.

Read more on the conditions you must meet in order to drive a minibus.

If you are a teacher or staff you need D1

Reasons why teachers need a D1 entitlement:

1. Teachers and other school staff are driving the school minibus for their paid employment. A teacher’s contract may not detail every activity and duty they carry out, but they receive a salary for doing so and they are subject to employer discipline for any negligence or misconduct whilst doing so, even outside normal school hours. We therefore conclude they receive payment or consideration for their work including driving, which is prohibited by the driving licence regulations when driving on a car licence.

2. The exemption for driving on a car licence stipulates that the journey must be for social purposes: school trips are official school business – if a member of staff took some pupils as passengers in their private car, they would need business use insurance cover as it would not be covered by a social, domestic and pleasure policy.

3. The exemption only applies to minibuses with a maximum weight of 3.5 tonnes fully loaded, excluding any specialised equipment for carrying disabled passengers. Many newer minibuses are over this weight limit; e.g. Ford Transit is 4.1 tonnes. The weight limit will not be changed. If a teacher relied upon the exemption and drove a minibus weighing less than 3.5 tonnes, the school might then replace it with a new heavier vehicle and the teacher could end up driving illegally if this was not picked up.

4. There has been no test case in court to determine this matter. Whilst various advice documents including some issued by central government state driving on a car licence is OK. These are expressing opinion and carry no weight in law. Bedford Borough Council’s position is to be prudent, rather than risk prosecution.

Bedford Borough Council’s position

There is no decided case law as to whether a teacher requires D1 entitlement on their licence when driving the school minibus. Due to the uncertainty of the law, it is Bedford Borough Council’s position to be prudent. Solicitors advise that there is a strong risk of prosecution for driving without a proper licence for the vehicle.

Our position is based on legal advice from the former county council’s solicitors taken in 2000 and reviewed in 2006. The view continues to be that the only reason a teacher is driving a school minibus is because of their paid employment with that school. This includes driving outside of school hours and at weekends, since a teacher’s contract does not state daily hours of working, only an annual number of hours of “directed time”. They are therefore “receiving a consideration”, since their salary cannot be considered “out of pocket expenses”.

Bedford Borough Council’s view is shared by a number of other local authorities, the Royal Society for the Protection of Accidents (RoSPA.) and the Freight Transport Association (FTA.).

Without a D1 entitlement, the risk remains that an employee could be prosecuted for driving without a proper licence, and the employer could then be prosecuted for causing or permitting someone to drive unlicensed. If convicted, there could be a heavy fine, court costs and the added implications of negative publicity both to the council and the school. If the case were proven then the vehicle and driver would not be insured so any financial liability would fall on the council.

In summary:

  1.  All drivers must hold category D1 on their driving licence to drive a minibus at any time for the organisation or school that employs them.
  2.  Staff who only have a car licence and wish to drive a minibus must pass a medical and the PCV theory and practical driving test to add D1 to their licence.
  3.  All Bedford Borough Council drivers must hold a current MiDAS certification, issued following an assessment of their competence by a MiDAS Driver Assessor Trainer.

MiDAS, the Minibus Driver Awareness Scheme

MiDAS, the Minibus Driver Awareness Scheme, is a scheme developed after long and detailed study of minibus driving and consultation with statutory and voluntary organisations that operate minibuses to develop and enhance the driving and passenger care skills of individuals that drive a minibus voluntarily or as part of their job.

No-one can drive a Bedford Borough Council minibus with passengers on board unless they have a current MiDAS certificate. The certificate which is valid for four years, is awarded after a theory session ,exam and a practical driving assessment.

Any one attending Bedford Borough Council MiDAS training needs to have a full D1 category on their driving licence.

The likelihood of death or serious injury whilst travelling as a passenger on one of the 125,000+ minibuses in the United Kingdom is between 2 and 3 times less than travelling as a passenger  in a car. However the driver needs skills over and above those required to drive a car.

Drivers of a minibus also have specific responsibilities to vulnerable passengers such as children and people with disabilities as well as a duty of care to take responsible safety precautions when arranging and providing transport for all passengers.

MiDAS objectives

The objectives of MiDAS are that minibus drivers will:

  • be assessed to ensure their driving skills are of an acceptable standard
  • be given help where necessary to improve their minibus driving skills
  • be aware of the practical,legal and safety issues surrounding minibus driving
  • be trained in the safe use of accessible minibuses where necessary
  • receive a certificate which is accepted by other MiDAS registered organisations

MiDAS courses

The Road Safety Team organise MiDAS training and usually run at least four courses a year.

If there is sufficient demand additional courses can be arranged

Courses are currently scheduled for the following dates:

  • 5 March 2019
  • 5 June 2019
  • 12 September 2019
  • 11 December 2019

Course booking

To book a place on one of these courses download the appropriate form below and email along with a copy of the candidates licence as directed on the form.

N.B. Accessible training is for drivers that will be transporting passengers that require use of a passenger lift to get on and off the minibus.

Contact MiDAS

Email: midas@bedford.gov.uk