Now we are all back to school and are hopefully on the road to ‘freedom’ it hopefully won’t be long until school trips and sporting fixtures are back on. Your buses may have been in use throughout the last lockdown or they may have been parked up since last March. Whatever mileage your vehicles have done, under a Section 19 Permit the required checks and inspections remain the same. So, here is a handy checklist for what needs to be done and why to get your vehicles safely back on the road.
- Services and MOTs
Minibuses need regular servicing and an annual MOT regardless of mileage. Vehicles that carry a maximum of 8 passengers don’t need to be tested until they are three years old and then annually thereafter. All other vehicles must be tested annually from the date of registration.
- Vehicle Safety Inspections
Vehicles operated under a Section 19 Permit are required to have regular safety inspections, completed by a qualified engineer. The DVSA recommends these inspections are completed every 10 weeks for vehicles under 12 years old, regardless of mileage, and every 6 weeks for vehicles over 12 years.
Safety inspections are primarily completed in the interest of safe vehicle operation, but they are also cost-effective. The early identification of wear, damage or maladjustment may not only prevent a breakdown, leading to repair costs and time off the road, but they can also prevent unnecessary wear that may lead to premature replacements.
- Checking the age of your minibus’ tyres
On the 1st of February 2021, two major changes came into force regarding tyres. Vehicles should not be using tyres over 10 years old on the front axle, or as single wheels of your minibus (9 to 16 passenger seats). You also need to ensure the manufacture’s date code is legible/visible on your tyres.
If you have a 17-seat factory-built minibus like a Ford Transit you will have double wheels at the back of the minibus. All other minibuses are likely to have single wheels at the front and back of the vehicle so you must check the dates of all your tyres.
If you have a Ford Tourneo, this has 8 passenger seats and is considered a car so the change in law doesn’t apply.
Your minibus will fail its MOT if it has tyres over 10 years old on the front steered axles or on any single wheels of your minibus. Tyres without a legible manufacture date code fitted to a minibus will also fail the annual test.
Your minibus will be issued with an immediate prohibition notice if it has tyres over 10 years old on the front steered axles or any single wheels. If the manufacturer’s date code is not legible on all tyres fitted to minibuses this would attract a delayed prohibition.
- Daily Minibus Checks
The law requires a system of reporting and recording defects that may affect the
roadworthiness of the vehicle and drivers are legally responsible for the condition of the vehicle when in use on the road. Therefore, daily checks for any defects or issues are vital, and the results of the checks must be recorded as well as how any defects were rectified.
Castle Minibus has a free app, STRIDA, to help schools staff/teachers complete a quick 12 point inspection and send this information to a central ‘dashboard’ where results are stored and defects can be managed.
Drivers must leave enough time to complete walkaround checks and be trained to carry them out properly to protect themselves and their passengers.
- Driver Proficiency
Drivers are the biggest safety risk where minibuses are concerned. It is advisable to check your drivers’ proficiency regularly and offer additional training where required.
Practical driving assessments and training like MiDAS are recommended every 3-4 years, but you can also use online driver risk assessments to test and train your drivers.
We also recommend that you are checking your drivers’ licences annually, if not termly to ensure they have not incurred any penalty points that may affect their driving or your insurance policies.
A Robust Safety System
Except for point 5, the list above details what is legally required as part of a minibus maintenance programme under a Section 19 Permit.
Castle Minibus are Champions of Minibus Safety and we want to ensure schools have all the information they need to run their minibuses safely and legally. If you manage your school minibuses then consider taking our online course in minibus compliance so you’ll be confident that you’ve everything covered.
Don’t forget, to make your life easier, Castle have a free app to help you complete and manage your daily inspections, including a video for training, and can arrange for 10-week safety inspections to be completed at your school so you don’t have to move vehicles. For more information about our services please just visit www.castleminibus.co.uk or call on 01869 253744 and our friendly team will help you.
We wish you all a safe and happy return to school.
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