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How to drive a minibus

Author: Eric Cook
by Eric Cook
Posted: Aug 13, 2015

Many people, at some point in their lives, need to drive a minibus. You may wish to volunteer as a driver for a charity, or you may have a job where you are asked to drive the minibus, such as a school teacher, or carer.

The thought of driving a large passenger vehicle like a minibus can be daunting. Here we try to put your mind at ease by explaining what you need to know about the legal situation when it comes to minibuses. We also offer some helpful tips about actually driving the thing.

What is a minibus?

A minibus is simply a passenger vehicle with between nine and ten passenger seats. There are strict rules governing the driving of minibuses.

The law.

When did you pass your test? If it was before January 1st 1997 you automatically received the D1 qualification. This means that you can drive a minibus providing:

? you are over 21

? there are no more than 16 seats in the vehicle

? you don't intend to charge your passengers

If you passed after January 1st 1997, you must apply for the D1 minibus entitlement in order to legally drive a minibus.

However – even if you don't have the D1 entitlement, you can drive a minibus as a volunteer, for a volunteer-run organisation as long as you don't charge. You must also be over 21 and have had a driving licence for 2 years or longer.

Anyone wishing to charge for running costs must have a minibus permit.

Anyone wishing to profit as a minibus driver must pass the appropriate passenger vehicle qualification.

It is well worth checking the full legalities of minibus driving on the DVLA website.

There have been several prosecutions for driving a minibus without the appropriate permit or licence. A company providing minibus hire in Ross on Wye recently had their vehicle impounded when it was found that they had hired it out to a customer who didn't have a permit. The company was fined and the customer was fined and given penalty points.

There are also strict rules about taking breaks from driving. For example, in any period of 4.5 hours of driving, a driver must rest for at least 45 minutes. Again, there are lots of rules here and it is sensible to check on the UK government website.

Speed limits

A minibus must be not exceed 60mph on the motorway or on dual carriageway. It must stick to a 50mph limit on single carriageways.

Driving tips

If you are driving a minibus for the first time it can be a considerably different experience to driving a passenger car.

For one thing, there's the physical size of the vehicle. You'll need to leave more of a gap between you and parked cars, and parking will be a little trickier in some situations.

What you will find, when you drive a large vehicle, is that other cars tend to get out of the way. Not all of the time, but a lot of the time. Because you are so big, they can see you coming, and they know they will come off worse in a bump. So passenger cars tend to give way pretty readily to minibuses.

Try to avoid very narrow roads. Meeting an oncoming tractor down a country lane isn't much fun in a minibus.

When you first get the minibus, drive around some quiet, wide roads until you get used to it. Practice parking as well.

Lastly – a minibus is likely to be heavier that anything you have driven previously. This means that you should try to anticipate slowing down and apply the brakes sooner that you usually would have to.

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Author: Eric Cook

Eric Cook

Member since: Mar 31, 2015
Published articles: 5

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