Berkshire Driving School - Minibus Test
Why you might need the Minibus Tests
If you passed your test in 1997 or later or you have settled in this country from a non-European Community country, you will not have the D1 group on your licence. Check this out by looking at the bottom of your plastic driving licence. You will need this group if you want to drive a minibus. This walk-through will allow you to pass the minibus tests with the minimum of fuss. This article concludes with the practical driving test.
What is a Minibus?
This is a small bus with 10 to 17 seats (including the driver). If you need to pass the minibus test you must firstly get a provisional vocational driving licence. Drivers with an LGV driving licence will find group D provisional entitlement on their licence.
Minibus Training for School Staff
We train and assess minibus drivers in Berkshire. As you may know periodic assessments are required in order to comply with Health and Safety Policy Guidance. As a well-qualified and experienced assessor we are in demand to provide this service. Now schools in Bucks and London are taking advantage of our services.
"Planning Transport" published by the DfES in 1992 stated "
".. we advise schools to consider investing in D1 PCV training over the next few years, since the law will require it in the longer term"
Schools not acting on this advice now may find themselves short of staff permitted to drive their minibuses. This is because from 1997, minibus entitlement was not included on driving licenses after candidates passed the car test. Additionally from April 2010, even drivers with D1 "grandfather rights" on their driving license must, themselves, pass the passenger-carrying vehicle driving test and have that entitlement for a further three years before they are permitted to supervise learner drivers of minibuses.
Training need not be expensive and candidates have reported that our training is very helpful and effective. An efficiently driven vehicle will reduce accidents, carbon emissions and reduce costs for the establishment. In addition we will provide certificates for inclusion in staff Continuous Development File.
Estimated Cost of Getting your Minibus Licence
Please refer to our blog page for up to date costs : Driving School Charges
Getting the Provisional Vocational Licence
You must have a reasonable standard of health. Your eyes should have a good field of view and visual acuity. You should not have any problems that may cause a sudden loss of control (dodgy heart, epilepsy, fits, diabetes etcetera.)
Two forms must be filled in. Form D4 (the medical form) may be downloaded from here.
Click here to get your "D2" pack ordered -
You are not normally permitted to drive any vehicle over 3.5 tonnes unless you have a vocational driving entitlement on your licence. You must have your driving licence with you when taking ANY Driving test.
I am happy to train staff for the minibus test in a vehicle under 3.5 tonnes though this vehicle would be unsuitable as a test vehicle.
Minimum test vehicle for the minibus test
Category D1 vehicles are minibuses, which are passenger carrying vehicles (PCVs) and should have the following features and equipment fitted -
- with between 9 and 16 passenger seats
- with a MAM of at least 4 tonnes
- at least 5 metres in length
- ABS should be fitted
- A working tachograph should be fitted
- External mirrors for the use of the examiner should be fitted
- “L” plates should be displayed
Category D1+E vehicles are D1 vehicles towing a closed box trailer. The trailer should comply with the following -
- a MAM of at least 1.25 tonnes
- at least 2 metres high
- at least 2 metres wide
- carry a secure load such as a IBC filled with at least 600 litres water
- the combination should be legal e.g. the number plates should match.
Passing the Multiple Choice Theory Test
The theory test may taken at the same place as you took the car theory test centre but you may choose another if this is more convenient. This link will help you find onehttp://www.dsa.gov.uk/AtoZservices_Bannered.asp?Cat=-1&TestType=&TypeID=18
We have local theory test centres in Reading, Aldershot and Slough. This link will let you book your tests on linehttp://www.direct.gov.uk/en/Motoring/Motoringtransactions/DG_066356
A multiple-choice test theory test and a hazard perception test must be
passed before you take the practical driving test. Consider reading
“The Official DSA Theory Test for Drivers of Large Vehicles”
which is available from TSO (The Stationery Office). It is tedious reading
but does represent the question bank used by the DSA.
Alternatively I have copies available for your temporary use.
Some of the questions need a certain level of specialised knowledge. I have summarised these below. You may print these out for last minute revision. The colours I have used are similar to those used in the book -
Short cuts to passing the theory test
Information you'll need to know...
Vehicle weights and Dimensions
15 passengers weigh about 1 tonne.
Weight limit road signs may not apply to buses and a plate below the sign would show this.
Mass refers to the vehicle plus passengers and their luggage.
Vehicles higher than 3 metres should be driven with care through arched bridges, tunnels and near overhead cables
Bells hanging across the road warn of overhead electrical cables.
The minimum height of an unmarked bridge is 5 metres
If your vehicle is more than 3 metres high the information must be displayed in the drivers cab
Should you strike a bridge you must report the accident to the police immediately. If the bridge is a railway bridge then the railway authority (Railtrack) must also be informed.
The information for the legal axle weight limits can be found on the vehicle plate.
Part time bus lanes may exclude cars but you should use them when driving a minibus.
The speed limits for buses on dual carriageways is 62mph
A minibus has a maximum of 16 passenger seats.
The vehicles unladen weight is found on the side of the vehicle.
A bendibus does not need the trailer entitlement.
When a speed limiter is fitted a plate in the cab must show this information
Newer buses may be limited to 62mph.
Speed limiters do not apply the brakes.
Repairs to speed limiters must be carried out at an authorised speed limiter centre.
Beware of hump-backed bridges if driving a long vehicle
Long vehicles may be restricted on ferries, road tunnels, bridges and level crossings.
Icy roads may increase your stopping distance by 10 times
You are restricted to 60 mph when towing a trailer on a motorway
When parking at night the vehicle should have the parking lights switched on unless it is parked in an off-road parking area.
EU Regulation from March 2016 introduced the "smart tachograph" aimed at recording more journey information and eliminating tampering. Vehicles registered after 2 March 2019 should be fitted with a smart tachograph.
Smart tachographs introduce Global Positioning System (GPS) for positioning and tracking a vehicle, remote enforcement capabilities and the ability to link the units to vehicle telematics systems.
For a driver the fundamental change will be the need for each driver to have their own personal smartcard. Each active driver must have their own smartcard in the tachograph unit whilst driving.
Always take advice from the Transport Manager.
Drivers Hours and Rest Periods
When driving a bus (not a minibus) on an excursion, you must comply with European Community driver’s hours rules. Failure to do so could result in a fine and loss of licence. You must always have your smartcard with you. If this equipment becomes faulty you should take a manual record and get the equipment repaired as soon as possible and certainly within a week.
When a vehicle is double manned then each driver should use his or her own tachograph smartcard.
If someone else uses your vehicle for a short time, take out your smartcard for the duration.
The tachograph must be checked every 2 yrs and recalibrated every 6 yrs. A plaque is fixed on or near the apparatus to show this.
When your co-driver is driving you show this as a break in driving (the ‘bed’ sign)
After driving for the maximum period of 4.5 hours you must take a break of 45 minutes. Alternatively these 45 minutes may be broken down to several periods of a minimum of 15 minutes during these 4.5 hours.
The maximum daily driving time allowed is 9 hours extended to 10 hours two days a week.
Daily rest is 11 hours but this may be reduced to 9 hours on three days a week.
Normal weekly rest is 48 hours.
The week starts Sunday/Monday night.
If you have driven a total of 56 hours in any one-week you may only drive 34 hours the following week.
You may drive 90 hours in two consecutive weeks.
A drivers daily rest period may be taken in a parked vehicle if it is fitted with a bunk.
If asked to leave the vehicle by an official you should ask to see his warrant card. An official may "interrogate" your card but should return it.
If you need to change vehicles, take your smartcard with you.
If you obstruct an enforcement officer during the course of their business you could be liable to a £5000 fine.
If an emergency arises and you need to exceed the normal drivers hours you should continue with the same tachograph smartcard and make a note of the situation.
Bus drivers must use smartcard if journeying more than 50 km
Smart cards are now in increasing use. They last for about 28 days. Using the card for longer than this will overwrite previous information. There are four types of smart cards.
- A Workshop card is used by the calibration centre.
- A Control card is used by an enforcement officer.
- A Company card is used by the operator.
- A Drivers card is used by the driver.
If the driver loses his smart card the DVLA must be informed within 7 days. The smart card as used in a digital tachograph must be renewed every 5 yrs. These are available from the DVLA local office such as a VOSA testing station.
When starting the engine of a vehicle fitted with air brakes, wait until the low
pressure warning buzzer or light turns off before driving away.
Ice can build up in air brakes and stop them working in frosty weather.
The antilock brake light should go out at 10kph (6mph) or more.
When selecting D on an automatic bus you should apply the foot brake.
Cadence braking was once used before ABS was fitted to vehicles.
Brake fade of the service brakes can sometimes be a problem on long descents. This may be due to the linings heating and melting grease, which may have soaked into the linings, vapour forming in hot brake fluid or mechanical parts expanding when hot.
A retarder will reduce brake fade and reduce wear on the friction material.
Take care when using the retarder on a slippery surface to prevent the drive wheels locking up.
Some steep roads may have a gravel escape lane.
Never coast down hills as the air brakes will not work effectively.
After going through a flood, consider drying the brakes by driving with a light pressure on the brakes.
A stiff brake pedal could indicate lack of power assistance.
A spongy pedal could indicate dangerously low brake fluid levels.
When uncoupling a trailer, apply the trailer brake before releasing the coupling.
When you have uncoupled a light trailer you must push the trailer to check the brakes are working before unclipping the safety cable.
The following should be clearly displayed in the bus
- The seating and standing capacity
- The location of the emergency exits
- The fuel cut off switch
- The electrical isolator switch
- The first aid kit
- The fire extinguisher
The driver's seat should be adjusted to
- Ensure comfort
- Ensure good vision
- Allow operation of the controls.
The head restraint is there to protect your neck and should be adjusted accordingly.
Blue flashing lights may be displayed by
- Fire brigade
- Bomb disposal team
- Blood transfusion service
A green flashing light is shown by a doctor on call.
Police following behind with a blue light flashing may indicate left. This is to ask you to stop.
An empty pelican crossing shows a flashing amber light. You should continue with care.
Approximately 40% of sleep related accidents involve commercial vehicles. Men aged 30 years and under are most at risk, particularly between 2am and 7am.
Bus drivers must major on the safety and comfort of your passengers.
A person carrying a white stick with two red reflective stripes is both blind and deaf.
Kneeling buses allow infirm and elderly passengers to use the bus. Give them help if needed. Do not drive off unless they are seated.
Drivers of buses displaying the yellow children sign should set the hazard warning lights when children are getting on or off.
- means stop at next stop
- move off
- bus full do not stop at next stop
- means stop since there is an emergency on board.
If your bus breaks down consider moving passengers to the front to reduce injury in a
rear end shunt.
A half cab bus is one in which the driver has no contact with the passengers.
A conductor or other person in authority must be carried.
An open platform bus when driven empty should have a chain or strap across the entrance to deny access to members of the public.
Passengers are not allowed to ride on the open platform.
School buses must display yellow reflective 'Children' signs.
Fully trained people must only operate wheelchair ramps and lifts.
A bus driver driving with passengers at night should not leave the passengers in the dark.
Fifteen passengers will weigh about 1 tonne.
Drivers must not drive whilst issuing tickets, giving change or with the doors open.
The nearside mirror must be checked before moving off.
When driving a one person double decked bus the driver should make full use of the internal mirror system to check the upper deck and to check for passengers using the stairs.
The mirrors should be checked before letting passengers off the bus.
Air suspension gives a smooth and level ride.
A television should not be visible to the driver.
New buses must be fitted with priority seating for disabled drivers.
You may only deny a disabled passenger a ride if the boarding mechanism has failed to work or the designated space is occupied.
Children should not be physically touched except in a medical emergency.
The driver should wear a high visibility jacket when making a walk-round check of the vehicle.
This section deals with side winds, weight transfer when cornering,
accelerating and braking and driving a long and wide vehicle. This is a matter
of common sense for experienced drivers.
Mention is made of stopping distances being doubled in the wet and the four-second rule should be used in the rain (2 seconds in the dry).
Also be aware of not getting closer than 1 metre for every 10mph of your speed.
Double this in the wet. Make this 10 times when icy.
Fog light should be used if vision in fog drops below 100 metres. Be aware of where you would find red, amber, white and green cats eyes and when they would be useful in fog.
Accidents must be reported to the owner of a vehicle you may have damaged
or if this is not possible. Then the Police must be informed as soon as possible
and certainly within 24 hours.
When someone is injured the Police must be informed as soon as possible and certainly within 24 hours.
If you have to stop on a busy road for a long time, considering getting the passengers to the front to minimise the risk when being rear-ended.
A hit with a railway bridge should be reported to the railway authority (Railtrack) and the police.
Bridges lower than 5 metres should display a height warning sign.
If you have to attend a badly injured person, clear their airways, get them breathing then stop their bleeding, Press a pad on a wound to stop bleeding. Burns should be immediately doused with cold water.
When arriving at the scene of an accident, stop, set the hazard lights, warn approaching traffic, phone for an ambulance giving the location and a description of the scene and then clear bystanders away. Reassure victims and keep them warm. Loosen tight clothing and do not leave them unattended.
Give mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to anyone not breathing until help arrives.
The police may ask for your driving license, insurance documents and the MOT certificate.
Extinguishers may be
- Red, water (not to be used on electrical fires)
- Foam, cream
- Dry powder, blue
- Carbon dioxide, black.
Tunnels - turn to local radio for news, take off sunglasses,
use dipped headlights.
If your vehicle catches fire, keep driving out of the tunnel if possible.
Surprisingly the legal tyre depth is 1mm (1.6 mm for cars) three
quarters of the width of the tyre.
Do not drive the vehicle if the low-pressure warning buzzer or light operates.
Air brakes may have tanks that need draining daily to prevent moisture freezing in frosty weather.
Diesel may wax up in very cold weather unless an additive is added to the fuel.
Wait for the glow plug heater lamp goes out before turning over the engine in cold weather.
Be familiar with the dashboard warning lights.
Engine checks are best performed when the engine is cold and the vehicle standing on level ground.
Do not rev a diesel engine when you start it, as the turbo will spin before the oil pressure has built up.
Before switching off a diesel, allow the engine to idle for a few moments to allow the turbo to cool down
Wheel nuts should be checked daily (plastic markers are a help)
If a diesel runs out of fuel it may be necessary to bleed air out of the fuel system to restart the engine.
Splitters and range changers double the number of gears.
If a VOSA inspector declares the vehicle unsafe and takes it off the road, the Traffic Commissioner may be informed.
Know how a torque wrench should be used on wheel nuts.
Chock the vehicle when changing a wheel.
Leaving the Vehicle
Hazard lights used
- When slowing for obstructions on fast roads
- When temporarily obstructing traffic
- When broken down
- When letting children get on or off.
- When stopping and getting out
Stop at a safe place
Air suspension may let vehicle settle unevenly. Allow for this.
Apply parking brake
Turn off ignition
Check the offside mirror for passing traffic and pedestrians
Climb down facing vehicle and using hand holds
Passengers should take their valuables
Use high visible jacket when removing luggage
Use correct straight back posture when lifting.
A kerbside mirror may be fitted to help placing vehicle to the left.
A high seating position may create a blind spot by front bumper.
Consider opening window to cover blind spots
Look round to cover blind spots
Switch off reversing alarm 11.30pm to 7am when in a 30 mph limit.
Keep an extra clearance when following high vehicles to improve view.
A SORN lasts 12 months
Driving without insurance carries a maximum fine of £5000
A PCV operator's license may have conditions imposed by Traffic Commissioner.
Have your national driving license with you when driving in Europe.
Medical problems, which have been rectified, may be dealt with by Drivers Medical Branch of the DVLA when renewing PCV license.
Trailer up to 750kg may be towed without the +E entitlement.
D1 is minibus entitlement (up to 16 passenger seats, 17 seats including the driver.
D includes double decker buses and bendy-buses.
Load luggage before passengers get on so they feel confident that nothing is left behind
When returning from Europe search vehicle thoroughly (including lockers and covers) for illegal immigrants. You could face a £2000 fine for each one that gets in to the country. Do not leave the vehicle un-secured to prevent stowaways. Check your passenger list. The operator's licence may be at risk. Carry your operator documents. This must have details of their system to prevent illegal immigrants getting into the country.
Have a passenger manifest when crossing borders.
The drivers CPC requires a minimum of 35 hours training every five years.
The fine for not doing this is the same as driving without a licence.
When applying for a vocational licence the driver should have uncorrected vision of 3/60 in each eye.
(The 3 represents the distance at which two objects are resolved (higher numbers are better) and the 60 is a measure of optical correction needed. (Lower is better) 20/20 is nominal.
Do not rev the engine when it is started.
A double-decker bus can carry the same quantity of passengers as 20 cars.
Reduce carbon emissions by building up air pressure in air brakes at tick-over.
Air conditioning increases fuel consumption by about 15%
Open windows causes turbulence and can increase fuel consumption by more than air conditioning.
Faulty suspension could damage bridges, underground pipes and the road surface.
A leaking fuel cap can cause fuel to drip onto the road and make it slippery.
Do not sound the horn in a 30 mph limit (except in an emergency) at night between 11.30 and 7am.
Smooth driving will reduce carbon emissions by about 15%
Consider using cruise control.
Keep the revs down in the green sector of the rev counter.
Use block gear changes to reduce engine revolutions.
Other Road Users
Be aware of the effects of high wind on tall vehicles, bicyclists
Keep noise down when passing horses
Show learners consideration.
Cyclists are usually permitted to use bus lanes
Cyclists (and pedestrians) may use toucan crossings. (There is no flashing amber light)
School buses must display the reflective yellow 'children' signs
Wait for elderly persons at pelican crossings even when a green light is displayed to you.
Note that round signs are order signs. The red circle with a white
background usually displays a black symbol. The symbol depicts a road user,
which should not pass the road sign.
Rectangular signs provide you with information.
Round signs with blue backgrounds refer to parking restrictions.
The octagonal sign is a STOP sign.
Blue round signs refer to actions that must be performed.
Brown signs are tourist signs.
Triangular signs are warning signs. The black symbol is the problematical hazard.
Flashing amber lights mean continue with caution.
Flashing red lights or crosses mean stop (in your lane).
Be aware of the four types of count down markers –
- Red on white for a concealed railway crossing
- White on blue on motorways
- Black on white on non-trunk roads
- White on green for trunk roads.
You may cross solid white lines to overtake certain slow moving road users.
Recognise emergency diversion signs for motorways.
Diamond black and white signs apply to tram drivers
Be aware of road studs (amber, red, white, green and fluorescent yellow.)
Puffin crossings have sensors to stop the traffic when pedestrians are using them.
They light like traffic lights as found at junctions.
Active Traffic Management areas usually have hard shoulder running and lower speed limits.
Motorway emergency phones are routed to the police or a Highways Agency Regional Control Centre.
Highway Agency Traffic Officers are empowered to stop and direct drivers.
Emergency Refuge Areas should be used in preference to the hard shoulder in an emergency. When present they are 500 metres apart.
I hope that this resume of the PCV theory test questions is of some help to you. The pass mark is 85 correct answers out of the 100. Good luck with the test!
The Hazard Perception Test
This link will help you book it on line:http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/Motoring/Motoringtransactions/DG_066356
This may be taken at a different time to the multiple-choice part of the test but it must be passed within 2 years for a valid pass. The HPT is notoriously difficult for experienced drivers - practice using as many different computer discs as possible. I have a number of these available for you to borrow. At the time of writing the screens have very poor resolution. Do not sit too close as you will not see any more detail. Consider double clicking as experienced drivers may strike too early. Repeated clicking will cause you to fail that clip even if you click within the window of opportunity. It is acceptable to click occasionally for other hazards even if they do not count. If you click for every hazard you will fail. You must only click for developing hazards.
The Practical Driving Test
General information about the practical test is available here -
As an experienced LGV instructor I will, of course, be able to help
you. (My experience includes passes in the following examinations -
RTITB HGV instructor test, IAM HGV, Transport Managers qualification
in both national and international operations, the Diploma in Driving
Instruction and the Certificate in Education.)
Our local practical driving tests centres are -
- Greenham Common (Newbury)
The test may be taken at any vocational driving test centre you may choose
but I may not have experience of these test routes.
This link takes you to a list of test centres.
This link will help you book the test On-line:http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/Motoring/Motoringtransactions/DG_066356
If you have trained with me you will stand a good chance of passing. Failure is an expensive experiment. If you are one of my clients should phone or text me if you are booking your test to ensure that I am free for the test. Also ensure that the minibus is available and you have the dimensions. You will also need you driver number (from your licence). The DSA web page will give you a 15-minute window of opportunity before it times out. My mobile number is 07917666366 but please be patient as I may be instructing or the signal might be too weak. I will phone you back as soon as I can.
Assessments for Staff at Schools and Colleges
For local establishments this is £25 per member of staff and takes about one hour. For distant venues there is an additional call out charge of £25 per hour to cover the return journey to the site.
DRIVER REPORT FOR VOCATIONAL DRIVERS
Before driving off
Be aware of protocols for reporting vehicle faults, fuel and mileage.
Be acquainted with the use of the tachograph
Be familiar with the vehicle safety equipment inside the vehicle
Be able to perform engine checks
Walk round the vehicle and check its condition
Starting the engine
Be familiar with the warning lights and instrumentation
Starting engine with the minimum of mechanical wear
Always checking the blind spots - including the nearside
Avoid excessive clutch wear. Move off smoothly and safely
Predict traffic lights changing or gaps in traffic developing. Drive decisively
Use the left lane when possible. Discourage undertaking
Be aware of and comply with speed limits
Check mirrors regularly - check the nearside when passing dangers
Plan ahead to avoid stopping
Optimise your speed and position to improve safety for vulnerable road users
Use the camber to your advantage
Avoid road imperfections
Give appropriate signals after checking mirrors
Use the vehicles speed and position to improve view and indicate your intentions
Check the mirrors before braking
Slow before changing direction and accelerate gently when cornering
Allow for the vehicles length and width
Use the appropriate steering technique
Road signs and junctions
Check the mirrors before junctions
Have sufficient experience and knowledge to position the vehicle correctly
Block change the gears after braking
Comply with road signs and markings
Gradients and stopping
Reduce heat build up of your service brakes on long descents
Be aware of techniques for promoting safety when leaving the vehicle on a gradient
Avoid changing down when stopping
Avoid unexpected and un-progressive braking
Avoid blocking other road users when waiting in traffic
Be able to move off without reversing if the vehicle in front brakes down.
Apply the handbrake and put the vehicle in neutral when stopped
Trailers - uncouple safely