How to drive a minibus

I spent about three hours this morning doing the first half of my MiDAS refresher training. Today was theory – next week will be the practical.

I occasionally drive the minibuses for some of the youth activities that we run in SYA (although this has become increasingly less frequent as we have grown… which is a shame, really).

I wont reproduce the training here, but I will pick out some of the bits that I found interesting…

  • ABS
    • Compulsory for new minibuses from May 2002 onwards, but old minibuses don’t need to be retrofitted.
  • Seatbelts
    • Different types of minibuses used in minibuses and how they work. And stuff like the fact that the driver is responsible for ensuring that children under 14 wear their belts.
  • Tachographs
    • Devices to record the minibus’ speed and how often the driver has had a break. We don’t have any tachographs on our buses, so this perhaps wasn’t entirely relevant, but it was still pretty cool to see some tachograph discs.
  • Speed limiters
    • Devices which restrict the top speed of our buses to about 62mph. Apparently these have been required on all new buses since 2005, and community transport such as ours have until 2008 to get older buses fitted with them. Just need a way to let other drivers on motorways know that we can’t actually go any faster!
  • Criminal record checks
  • Defensive driving, Crashes, Hazard Awareness
    • This bit was the most interesting, with group discussions on defensive driving techniques, reviewing some scenarios (discussing what-happens-next and whose-fault-will-it-be), and trying to quickly identify potential hazards in photographs from a driver’s perspective.
  • Mobile phone usage
  • Parking
    • How to park, where to park, and when and where you can use Blue Badges
  • Vehicle and Operator Services Agency
    • The people who do our MOTs are apparently also the only group other than the police who can stop a moving car. Which they do to carry out vehicle spot checks. I didn’t realise that the extent of my personal liability as a driver – like if the tax disc of a minibus you are driving as a volunteer is out of date, you are the lucky person to get the fine. Sounds a little unfair!
  • Speed limits
    • Different for minibuses… I already knew this bit, but a useful reminder
  • Transporting passengers with oxygen cylinders!
    • This was a new one on me… I’ve never needed to do this. It was an interesting discussion.
  • Risk Management
    • ‘Managing occupational road risk’… because risk assessment training is always fun. 😉
  • Driving abroad in minibuses
    • Fairly simple – I’m not allowed to. 🙂
  • Fire
    • As in what-to-do-in-the-event-of.

Oh, and I passed. So on to the practical driving test next Thursday!

5 Responses to “How to drive a minibus”

  1. […] took a day off work today to help with a Solent Youth Action activity (a chance to use my renewed MIDAS certificate! […]

  2. Steven says:

    laws regarding driving minibuses are changing all the time! This is a good site to help you keep up to date with what is changing

  3. We have just had a couple of our lads go through the same training. Some of the theory is pretty difficult but with plenty of revision you can get round it. Good luck with your courses. Charlie

  4. Minibus-Blog says:

    Good article, I also have a minibus website, good luck, keep it up!

  5. Roger Denman says:

    A great article. I am one of the MiDAS Training Agents (I train the MiDAS Driver Assessor/Trainers) and it is really good to hear that the material is being well received.

    I especially agree that drivers enjoy the more interactive elements.

    Enjoy your driving!

    Best wishes.