If you have a large family and are considering purchasing a minibus to use a family car, there are certain things you should know. In this article we have identified five. They are:
1) Definition of a Minibus
MPV's and People Carriers can have 7 or 8 seats but this does not class them as a minibus. It's an important distinction as it may affect your insurance and driving licence requirements.
The classification for a minibus is a vehicle that has between 9 to 16 passenger seats. Any more seats then the vehicle you're driving is as a coach!
2) Driving Licence Requirements
Driving licences issued after the 1st January 1997 require a category D1 classification, which can be obtained by applying to the DVLA and passing a Passenger Carrying Vehicle (PCV) test.
As the minibus is a family vehicle and not being used commercially, there are exemptions to this regulation that will allow it to be driven with a full category B (car) licence, but only if the following conditions are met:
1. The minibus is used as a family vehicle but not for hire and reward.
2. You must be over 21 and have held your Category B license for more than 2 years. If you are over 70 then you are required to meet the health standards for driving a D1 vehicle.
3. No payment can be accepted for Coach Hire Welham Green driving the minibus.
4. The minibus cannot weigh more than 3.5 tonnes or 4.25 tonnes with special equipment for carrying disabled passengers.
5. Towing a trailer of any size is prohibited.
6. The minibus can only be driven in the UK. Driving in Europe will require a D1 licence.
3) Driving in Europe
A 'waybill' or an 'own account certificate' may be needed regardless of whether the minibus is being used a family vehicle or for hire or reward.
Other documents that should be kept in the vehicle include a minibus insurance certificate, European accident form and Vehicle Registration document. A specialist minibus insurance provider will be able to advise whether a Green Card is also needed.
When driving in Europe a GB sticker or EU style GB sticker must be prominently displayed on the minibus at all times.
A tachograph may be required for international journeys starting from the UK as the driver must comply with EU drivers hours regulations.
Check out all rules and regulations before driving to any international country. The International Road Freight Office, embassies and tourist information offices can provide you with the necessary advice.
4) Driving in the UK
Speed limits for a minibus on UK roads are:
30 mph in urban and residential areas
50 mph on A class (single-carriageway) roads
60 mph on dual-carriageway roads
70 mph on motorways
The speed limit on motorways is reduced to 60 mph when towing a trailer and the fast lane cannot be used for overtaking.
Other issues a minibus driver should be aware of include:
a) A fire extinguisher and a first aid kit must be carried at all times.
b) Avoid using horns or reversing bleepers between 11.30 pm and 7.00 am.
c) Use the minibus' side lights if parking it on the street at night.
Remember that a minibus handles differently to a car. For the comfort of your passengers, drive carefully around bends and when braking.
Stopping distance is greatly increased with a minibus. In good weather allow at least 4 seconds between you and the vehicle in front. Double this distance for wet conditions and add even further distance for icy roads.
5) Minibus Insurance
As with a car, minibus insurance is required by law. The three types of insurance available are:
This is the minimum cover required by law. It covers injury to third parties and their property, and some legal costs.
Third Party Fire and Theft
The additional cover with this policy is for damage or loss of the taxi operator's minibus by fire and theft.
The highest level of minibus insurance, covering damage to the vehicle after an accident irrespective of whether it was the policy holder's fault or not. Other cover may include new vehicle replacement, windscreen/window breakages, replacement locks, medical expenses and loss of personal effects.
To avoid paying too much for minibus insurance, seek advice from a specialist minibus insurance provider. They will tailor a policy to your specific requirements rather than selling you a standard commercial policy. Another benefit is the availability of an advisor 24 hour a day, to help if you have had an accident or breakdown and to ensure there are no unexpected surprises when making a claim.
About the Author:
The Minibus Club is a specialist minibus insurance provider and has offered UK minibus insurance quotes since 1997. Visit their website to get a free quote for charity minibus insurance or call their hotline on 0845 609 0323. See how much you could save on your minibus insurance.