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Minibus lobby calls for all to be tested

The Association of Teachers and Lecturers has joined forces with the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents in calling for compulsory licensing of minibus drivers.

The Government announced last week that seat-belts must be fitted on all vehicles carrying children within a year, and new drivers must take a further test to drive a minibus. But that means that existing drivers can continue to drive buses with up to 16 seats without training, tests or a medical check-up, and falls short of the EU recommendations which say all drivers should take a test.

The new regulations also end the concession which allows children under 14 to sit three abreast in two seats.

The ATL campaign will target 20,000 schools as part of its "School Safe" initiative, warning of the dangers of minibus driving without proper training. RoSPA has developed a 90-minute test which includes a safety check of vehicles, an on-the-road assessment of a variety of traffic conditions, and a written test which examines emergency procedures.

Peter Smith, general secretary of the ATL, has written to Transport Secretary Brian Mawhinney, urging him to review his position on training and testing drivers, as he had done on seat-belts.

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