Service & Maintenance
How to Safely Maintain your New School Minibus
If you do decide to order your new vehicle on a contract hire basis, you can elect to include the costs of all regular servicing, safety inspections, new tyres, breakdown cover and any MOT’s for the duration of the minibus lease. Where necessary, you can also include any regular maintenance for additional equipment, for example a tail-lift for wheelchair accessible vehicles. It is our company policy to provide all contracts on this basis, as this ensures that most of the hard-work and administration is removed from the customer.
In addition to the above, it is also important to establish a clear and workable policy for the day to day running of your minibus. As a public service vehicle, you have a legal requirement to ensure that it is safe and roadworthy at all times. Adopting a structured maintenance system will assist you to achieve this.
The Driving & Vehicle Standards Agency (formerly VOSA) provide a useful guide on maintaining road worthiness , this will serve as a good reference for the rules and requirements of safe operation.
Decide who is Responsible for Minibus Checks
At the outset, identify a member of staff who can be responsible for the safety of the minibus and who can liaise with us (or the relevant body) during the contract. That person, with training and guidance, can also carry out regular safety checks. Admittedly this can be an onerous undertaking and staff may be resistant to inherit additional responsibilities. However, this is a key-role and can assist the school to ensure the entire process is administered properly.
Daily Checks on the Vehicle
Individual drivers are responsible for the vehicle they operate and so, as an absolute minimum, a daily walk-around check should be employed before using the vehicle. This driver should be provided with a simple and clear checklist which can be completed for each inspection and for the identification of any issues with the vehicle. Any issues identified must be resolved immediately. All records relating this should be retained for a minimum of 15 months.
Regular Vehicle Checks (Safety Inspections)
In addition to any daily checks, a formal system of minibus safety inspections should be introduced. A safety inspection, unlike the daily checks, is carried out by an accredited automotive engineer or workshop. The intervals for this will be dependent upon the mileage of the vehicle, although the school should have already agreed and lodged an agreed schedule with the Traffic Commissioner.
In relation to this, it is important to note:
- Any access ramps or tail-lifts for wheelchair accessible vehicles should be inspected, along with seats, restraints or seat belts;
- A more in-depth inspection might be pragmatic for period of inactivity, for example after a summer holiday;
- The inspections are NOT the MOT of the vehicle. A minibus requires an annual MOT which we can assist you to organise; and
- Formal records of what the engineer or workshop has carried should be retained safely.