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Minibus drivers urged to take test

Teachers who drive minibuses are being urged to take extra training and tests in the light of evidence that 15 per cent are unfit to take the wheel.

The Association of Teachers and Lecturers and the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents is stepping up its campaign to coincide with the end of the Government's consultation period on its proposals to fit compulsory seat belts in school minibuses and coaches.

A poster, part of ATL's "School Safe" initiative, encourages teachers to take a national test pioneered by RoSPA with the message:"Don't take the risk. Take the test."

The union says the poster is timely as results from minibus driver tests in Hertfordshire over the past year showed that 19 out of 131 candidates (15 per cent) were referred for further training.

ATL and RoSPA want the Government to reconsider its decision to exclude volunteers from the new EU licensing laws which come into force in July.

Only new car drivers will have to take another test for minibus driving. Current drivers can continue to drive minibuses with up to 16 seats without training, a test or a medical examination.

The 90-minute RoSPA test includes a safety check inside and outside the bus. Drivers are tested on the road and a written test examines knowledge of journey planning and emergency procedures.

The poster asks: "Are your drivers properly trained? Are the vehicles tested and roadworthy? Are seat belts fitted and secured? Do you plan journeys and rest breaks?" Information on minibus driver training courses is available from the RoSPA Training Centre, 0121-706 8121

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