A recent survey of what people carry with them in their minibuses provided an interesting result. For although virtually all the items noted are ones that can be seen as obviously useful, virtually no two schools provided the same response.
The most common item that is carried – and one could say that almost 100% of school minibus drivers carry this – is a mobile phone. Ideally a mobile phone loaded with the relevant numbers and contact details for handling an emergency.
Allied to this is the notion of having the details of what to do in an emergency printed out on laminated card or in some other hard-to-destroy form, and which is always kept in the bus.
Additionally some schools ensure that the phone also carries a relevant phone number which can be called should the bus be taking longer than expected to make the journey home at the end of the day. A number which will reach the person in the school who can contact parents to tell them of the delay.
After that we saw noted the carrying of details on breakdown policy, along once again with contact numbers. At this point insurance policy details were also noted – something that is helpful to have in the unlikely event of the minibus being involved in an accident.
Next came the high visibility coat (BS EN 471) and the warning triangle which although not compulsory in the UK, is compulsory in some countries such as France. Interestingly, in France the regulation is that one must be able to get the jacket and put it on without getting out of the vehicle.
A variation on the triangle was mentioned – the portable flashing beacon, and many stressed the need for a working torch – and a pen and paper. Seemingly obvious but given that not everyone mentioned them, presumably they are not carried in every minibus.
With such responses – and particularly with items that could be removed or might no longer be working, there is the implication of the need to check the minibus before each journey to make sure it is still fully equipped and that everything is in working order.
One school reported to us that they actually used the issue of what the school minibus should carry as a topic in a discussion prior to a Duke of Edinburgh Award expedition.
Seemingly some of the sixth formers did better than some of their teachers in drawing up a comprehensive list. Which is perhaps because most of us get into cars each day without all this equipment. Maybe we should all carry our own check list like this all the time.
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