The AA advises schools not to take a half-hearted approach to travelling this half term
The AA is calling on schools and colleges to ensure that student minibuses are safe and roadworthy before embarking on planned trips both in the UK and abroad, for the upcoming half term break.
Teachers who volunteer to drive a school minibus are personally responsible for ensuring it is roadworthy to drive.* According to the AA’s own research, the top causes of breakdowns are as follows:**
– Flat or faulty battery
– Damaged tyres and wheels
– Clutch cables
– Spark plugs
– HT leads
– Starter motor
– Alternator faults
“Travelling with school children, as any teacher knows, is a serious undertaking, and one in which the safety of the pupil must be put first,” said Stuart Thomas, head of fleet services and SME at the AA. “School minibuses are often infrequently used, so drivers may not be aware of any potential faults or issues.
“To avoid unnecessary breakdowns on the road, we’re urging teachers, or those with allocated responsibility for school minibus safety, to check their vehicles for the top
causes of breakdowns at least a fortnight before travel to allow time for any needed repairs. Just a few simple checks ahead of your journey could avoid problems later. Breakdown cover is also recommended for all schools to prevent disruption and delays to your journey.”
If travelling overseas, drivers should also check if there are any country specific driving conditions they will need to consider. For example, vehicles entering Paris must now feature a windscreen sticker showing which European emissions standards they meet to avoid on-the-spot fines.
The AA’s partner QBE Business Insurance is also urging teachers to make sure they have the right level of insurance cover for their trip.
“To get the right level of protection for trips in the UK and overseas, teachers need to ensure that their minibus insurance policy covers several factors,” said Jason Cowlishaw, senior motor underwriter at QBE. “This includes all the uses to which the minibus is put, the total number of passengers allowed, along with the total weight, and all named drivers.
“Comprehensive cover is required to make sure you’re not liable for any damage you may cause to the minibus or to other vehicles, as well as for the journey and all countries visited. It goes without saying that drivers should also find a safe and secure place to park their minibus overnight and lock all doors and lockers to ensure adequate overnight protection.”
For more information on the AA’s services, please visit www.theaa.com/business/breakdown or contact 0800 551188.
* www.teachers.org.uk/files/active/0/Minibus.pdf ** www.theaa.com/breakdown-cover/advice/top-ten-breakdown-causes