Minibus Drivers (OBUHSN-27)


This Health & Safety Notice should be read and understood by all employees and students of Oxford Brookes University who have a responsibility for arranging the hiring of minibuses and/or driving minibuses on field trips, visits, sports activities etc.

Additional driving skills are required in order to handle a minibus safely. It is not simply like driving a large car. The weight and size of the vehicle are greater. In addition the driver takes on responsibility for the safety of passengers. Although rare, serious accidents have occurred when educational establishments use minibuses. The DVLC (fact sheet INF28), The Oxfordshire County Council's Minibus Regulations, The Operation of Minibuses in the Voluntary Sector Code of Good Practice and the University's insurers advice have been used as a basis for this Health and Safety Notice.

Legal requirements

Drivers who hold full entitlement to drive before 1 st January 1997 (GROUP A [B for automatics] on an old style licence or as CATEGORY B and D1 on a current style licence) can drive a minibus provided that they are 21 or over, the minibus has a maximum of 17 seats including the driver's seat and it is not being used for hire or reward.

Drivers who obtained full entitlement to drive (CATEGORY B) on or after 1 st January 1997 will normally only be able to drive vehicles with no more that 9 seats including the driver's seat, unless they take an additional DVLC driving test. However they will be able to drive a minibus with a maximum of 17 seats including the driver's seat without having to obtain category D1 provided:

  • the vehicle is used for social or domestic purposes by a non-commercial body but not for hire or reward
  • they are aged 21 or over
  • they have held a car (category B) licence for at least 2 years
  • they are providing their service on a voluntary basis
  • the minibus maximum weight is not more than 3.5 tonnes excluding any specialist equipment for the carriage of disabled passengers. Minibuses up to 4.25 tonnes will be permitted in certain circumstances.

Drivers with current endorsements must be referred to the Risk & Insurance Officer (Directorate of Finance & Legal Services) for clearance by the University's insurers. All Licences must be checked for the appropriate driving categories. If in any doubt as to the categories, authorisation to drive must be withheld and advice sought from DVLC Swansea.

University minibus drivers

University minibus drivers can be defined as employees of Oxford Brookes University who as part of their contract of employment drive students, staff or others in a minibus. They will hold a PSV driving licence either before they are employed by Oxford Brookes University or passing the PSV test will be a condition of their probationary period.

Volunteer minibus drivers

Volunteer minibus drivers can be defined as members of staff or students who drive other members of staff and/or students on field trips, visits, sports activities etc, on an occasional basis.

Others who drive university staff/students

This Health Safety Notice will also apply to persons who are not University employees but who supervise and/or employ university staff.


A person, notified to the Safety Officer, should be nominated in every Faculty/Directorate that has volunteer drivers to ensure that when a minibus is booked, the volunteer driver meets all of the requirements below.

  • be at least 21 years old
  • have at least two years driving experience on a full driving licence
  • hold a current driving licence with the correct driving classifications
  • passed a University medical examination (section 7)
  • passed a University minibus driving assessment (section 8)
  • The same control measures must apply if the vehicle is owned by Oxford Brookes University or hired from an outside agency.

In the event of a driver having a licence with endorsements, the eligibility of the person to drive a minibus on behalf of the University will be determined on a case by case basis, dependant on the number of endorsements and the offence for which they were issued.

Medical examination of drivers

All volunteer drivers will have to pass a basic medical examination or questionnaire that will be provided by the Senior Occupational Health Advisor.

  • For persons under the age of 40 the medical will have to be repeated every 5 years
  • For persons over the age of 40 the medical will have to be repeated every 2.5 years
  • For persons over the age of 60 the medical will have to be repeated every year.

Any significant change in medical conditions that may affect the person’s fitness to drive that occur between medicals must be reported to DVLC Swansea and the Senior Occupational Health Advisor as soon as possible.

On completion of a successful medical examination a certificate will be issued to the volunteer driver. The Senior Occupational Health Advisor will keep records of all the results of the medical examinations in confidence.

Assessments of drivers

Volunteer minibus drivers must pass a minibus driving assessment (Appendix 5) which will be conducted by a member(s) of Oxford Brookes University staff (who will have received specialist training). On completion of a successful driving assessment, the volunteer driver will be issued with a certificate that will entitle them to drive minibuses for five years (subject to successful medical examination).

Records of all the results of minibus driving assessments will be kept in confidence by the Safety Officer and/or Senior Occupational Health Advisor.

University drivers, volunteer drivers and/or contractors who drive University staff/students, must inform the Safety Officer of any subsequent licence endorsements.

List of approved drivers

A list of volunteer drivers who have been issued with certificates for both minibus driving and medical clearance will be sent to the person(s) in the Faculty/Directorate with responsibilities and/or duties for volunteer drivers. This list will also be sent to those person(s) within the University who have minibuses for hire.

The driving qualification will not be an addition to the volunteers' driving licence and will only apply at Oxford Brookes University.

Training for driving assessors

Driving Assessors will be nominated in the relevant Faculty/Directorate to train and assess the driving standards of the volunteer drivers. The minimum qualifications for the driving assessors will be the Institute of Advanced Motoring Minibus Test or a test of an equivalent standard to be determined at the time.

It may not be necessary for every Faculty/Directorate to have its own assessor. Agreements to share driving assessors between Faculties and Directorates may be appropriate. As a guide the University will require four assessors.

A list of assessors is given in Appendix 3.

Sports (student) drivers

Before being granted permission to drive all student/sports drivers will have completed a medical questionnaire that will have been assessed by the Senior Occupational Health Advisor and a driving assessment conducted on the open road by an approved assessor.

Provision and use of seat belts

All minibuses purchased, leased or hired must have seat belts fitted to all seats. These should, as far as possible, be lap and diagonal belts, but where this is not feasible, lap belts should be fitted. New minibuses must not have any sideways facing seats. Seat belts must be worn at all times. The most senior member of staff present or the driver must ensure that they are worn.

Loading of minibuses

The number of people and the weight of luggage carried must not exceed the maximum limits specified by the manufacturer of the vehicle. If a large amount of luggage is to be carried it may be necessary to reduce the number of passengers in order to remain within the maximum loading limits. Any luggage that may shift due to the movement of the vehicle must be safely secured. The use of roof racks must comply with the guidance given by the manufacturer of the vehicle.

Towing of trailers

Additional driver training for towing trailers will be required. If a trailer is being towed, no passengers may be carried behind the front row of seats unless there is a side door that is easily accessible to passengers. Before towing a trailer, the following checks must be carried out to ensure:

  • that the vehicle being used is appropriate for this use (seek professional advice through the Safety Office if any doubt)
  • that the gross weight of the vehicle plus the trailer is within the vehicle’s gross weight limit
  • that the kerbside weight of the towing vehicle is clearly marked on the front nearside of the vehicle
  • that the downward force from the loaded trailer on the towing ball is within the limits imposed by the towing vehicle manufacturer
  • that the axle loads of the towing vehicle are not exceeded
  • that a breakaway chain is in use, which will activate the handbrake should the coupling break. Advice on this matter should be sought from the trailer manufacturer or approved dealer
  • that the unladen weight of the trailer and trailer tyre pressures are clearly marked on the trailer
  • that the total gross weight (trailer weight plus maximum load to be carried) is clearly marked on the front of the trailer
  • that the trailer handbrake/overrun brake functions properly
  • that the trailer lights and indicators work
  • that the load is securely lashed to the trailer body or frame
  • that there is suitable marking of any rear overhang greater than one metre by using a 'Long Vehicle" sign or other approved method (e.g. warning tape) or an approved light in hours of darkness or bad weather.

When towing a trailer, the driver must be very cautious about how fast they drive. Vehicle/trailer combinations can become unstable at speeds below the legal maximum, particularly when being passed by fast moving large vehicles, in windy conditions, or when manoeuvring. On long journeys the trailer and vehicle should be checked at least once every two hours of travel.

Users of boat trailers are strongly advised to refer to the Amateur Rowing Association's booklet "Towing of Boat Trailers".

Consumption of alcohol by any driver

It is an absolute rule that a driver does not consume any alcohol during or in the period before any journey. Since blood alcohol level should be zero during all driving activities, care should be exercised if consuming alcohol even on the previous day. Alcohol must not be consumed in the 8 hour period immediately prior to driving.

Overseas travel

There are likely to be special insurance requirements for overseas travel. Check with the Risk & Insurance Officer (Directorate of Finance & Legal Services) and the operator of any hired vehicle. Vehicles seating more than 9 and travelling outside the British Isles will encounter different driving and transport regulations in Continental EC countries, and different standards again outside the EC. These regulations should be checked with the Department of Transport International Office.


Forms (Word document, 72KB)

Issue: 4 April 2009