Representatives of school transport charity BUSK (Belt Up School Kids) met Education Minister Nick Gibb MP (Bognor Regis and Littlehampton, Conservative) on Tuesday, April 19.
Pat Harris, Director of BUSK told CBW: “The Education Minister seemed very taken aback when we explained about coach drivers and how some tour companies forced them to share rooms, sleep in tents, caravans or sheds at activity sites and share shower blocks with children where the shower cubicle doors stopped at the shoulder and knee. This compromised the driver’s position and also breached good practice safeguarding guidance for children.
“We gave the Minister evidence related to a tour operator, including a detailed report from Chris Bristow of Lincoln-based P C Coaches, which as a result of bad experiences, now only works for tour companies which provide single rooms for their drivers.”
Pat added: “The Minister was very surprised to say the least when he learnt that up to 30% of coach crashes are linked to driver fatigue. Part of this research was undertaken by Loughborough University. The same report stated that most crashes happen in the early morning hours or at the end of a shift. BUSK told the Minister that by the end of a shift, some of these drivers will have been awake for 30 plus hours. He was visibly shocked. He was also surprised at the fact that current guidance did not include more for schools about this issue.
“BUSK has been asked by the Minister and Department of Education to provide the key points in writing so we can seem a commitment to move things forward. BUSK views the meeting highly successful and are encouraged by the positive comments from both the Department of Education and the Minister.”