How safe is your minibus? Taxi passengers rely on drivers to keep them and their belongings secure. At the same time, driving a minibus means you go anywhere, anytime – you can’t always choose the safest spots and slots.
Minibus theft can be devastating for schools, clubs and charities, too, who rely on their vehicle to take them on trips, matches, fundraising events and more.
Minibuses may also be used to transport expensive sports or safety equipment, which could be a target for thieves.
With figures indicating around 114,000 vehicle thefts in England and Wales in 2018/2019, it pays to boost the security of your minibus. Here are some top tips to make sure you don’t have to claim on your minibus insurance.
When you’re transporting passengers as a taxi service or as part of a club or school, passengers will be carrying handbags, money, smartphones, tablets – all things that could attract thieves.
Make sure that you tell all passengers to take their belongings with them and secure them out of sight if you’re leaving them in the minibus. It only takes seconds for professional thieves to strike.
If you’re running a large fleet of minibuses in your taxi company you may already be operating fleet management software that tracks the locations of your vehicles.
If not, GPS trackers can give minibus owners peace of mind about exactly where their vehicles are at any one time. Most trackers can be fitted out of sight of the thieves so they can be remotely activated by the tracking company and the police if the vehicle goes walkabout.
GPS tracking data may also be able to give you information about routes taken and driver behaviour so you can improve your fleet’s efficiency and make a record of when servicing is due.
The best place to park your minibus is a bright place with plenty of passing people and/or CCTV. Remote, dark places make it much easier for thieves to target the vehicle without being disturbed.
It goes without saying that the minibus should be left locked, with windows and doors safely closed. It is easy to forget to do this when assisting passengers, especially children. Not securing your minibus properly could lead to problems when you come to claim on your minibus insurance.
If you can afford to invest in a brand new minibus, it should come with an alarm or immobiliser fitted as standard, but that’s not the case with many older models.
Investing in an immobiliser can help hinder a theft attempt as it won’t allow the minibus to be started without the correct key. Thieves always prefer easy targets, so this extra level of security should deter them from breaking in.
One of the best ways to improve your minibus security is to invest in driver training, helping to develop skills in managing challenging situations. You may find that completion of a driver training course brings down your minibus insurance premium, too.
It might seem obvious but making sure your minibus keys are safe is one of the biggest ways to stop minibus theft. Where are your minibus keys kept? In a locked, secured safety box? A break-in at a school or charity could mean that thieves are able to make off with more than just what’s in your office.
If you’re running your minibus as part of your taxi fleet, your drivers may be dealing with cash on a daily basis. Make sure all cash is secured in a locked box out of sight of passengers.
You could also think about switching your drivers to cashless and offering card payments for passengers. Pre-booked trips in the minibus – like airport shuttle runs – might have even been paid for up front.
So, you’ve secured your vehicle but what about the safety and security of you and your passengers? As a minibus driver, you rely on reflexes to keep you safe, but reflexes are slower when you are tired.
Making sure you are in the best possible condition for driving before you head out will help to prevent crashes.
Firstly, rest is vital – sleepy drivers can lose control of the wheel, or fail to react to hazards quickly enough. Prioritise sleep before you head out on a shift, and build in rest stops in your route plan.
Consuming heavy meals, alcohol or certain medications can also cause drowsiness. Take light meals before driving, do not drink alcohol and make sure your medication is safe for driving before you set off.
You should check your vehicle before setting off, every single time you go out to work. Walk around the minibus checking for defects, looking for signs of damage or wear and making sure the fuel cap has not been tampered with.
It is your job to make sure your passengers are safe when they board the minibus, and during the journey.
Choosing a safe place to stop and take on passengers is crucial. You should not let passengers on until you have stopped completely, beside a pavement or traffic-free area, preferably with good lighting.
You must supervise children entering the minibus, and allow plenty of time for passengers who are elderly or disabled to get in.
Passengers should ride one to a seat, using seatbelts, and any passengers in wheelchairs should be safely restrained.
You must follow the law around speed limits, seatbelts, and avoiding alcohol or drugs prior to driving.
Although minibus drivers can sometimes be under pressure to get to a destination quickly, speed is a major factor in causing collisions or making their impact more severe. Driving at a sensible speed will help keep you and your passengers safe.
If your minibus is fitted with a speed limiter, this makes excessive speed less of a concern but limiters can come with their own dangers unless driving style is adjusted. For example, a limiter can affect the ability to overtake, accelerate, change lanes and enter roads with a higher speed.
Do you need minibus insurance you can rely on? Talk to Taxi Insurer today.