Vocational training
for mini-bus & -coach drivers

It long has been common practice in the transport industry to offer vocational training through supervising of learner drivers by drivers in that particular category.

Since April 2010 however the rules have been changed. The restrictive code 101 on the licence for the D1 category which limits the grandfather rights to non-commercial driving of minibuses and mini-coaches now also indicates that the holder can no longer act as the supervising driver during vocational training for drivers.

What has changed?

Drivers who passed their car driving test before 1997 were also allowed to drive minibuses up to 16 passenger seats (as well as small lorries and some trailer combinations, subject to certain restrictions).This is commonly known as ‘implied rights’ or ‘grandfather rights’.

Until April 2010, learner drivers – those who have not yet passed their test – of minibuses have been able to receive their driver training from drivers who obtained their (car) licence before 1997, but who haven’t necessarily passed the bus driver test themselves.

However, it has since become clear that there are safety issues when a person who has never passed the D1 (or C1) driving test acts as supervisor or accompanying driver for a learner driver in those categories.

To address these safety issues, learner drivers can no longer drive a vehicle on public roads unless they are being supervised by a qualified driver. He must hold a full licence for the category of vehicle being driven, and must have held that licence for the relevant period of time – i.e. 3 years.

What hasn’t changed?

These changes will not affect anyone’s existing entitlement to drive D1 (or C1) vehicles, but they will prevent anyone from acting as a supervising driver or trainer in such vehicles if they only hold a pre-1997 license and not the full qualification to drive that vehicle or vehicle combination. In other words, the grandfather rights for pre-1997 licences still exist where driving is concerned, but not where training is concerned.

How does this impact driving instructors and trainers?

Anyone in the training industry who relied on implied entitlements had to pass the relevant driving test before 6 April 2010 in order to continue acting as an accompanying driver. Those drivers who did follow this route are considered by DVLA to already meet the requirement relating to the length of time that the full licence must have been held – 3 years – from the date of the change.

Any driver who passed the relevant driving test(s) and met the appropriate medical standards after the 6 April 2010 will have to wait until they have held their new entitlement for three years before they can act as the supervising driver.

Make sure you check your trainer’s qualifications before getting out on the road!

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