Every type of job comes with its own, unique set of challenges. Working as a minibus driver – either professionally or on an ad-hoc basis for clubs, charities or schools – is certainly no exception.
The trick is recognising what these challenges are, and then taking proactive steps to manage them or minimise the risk of them occurring in the first place. Before we share some of our top tips, is your minibus insurance up for renewal? If so, we can help.
Here at Taxi Insurer, our aim is to pair you with the perfect policy by working hard to understand you, your minibus and what you use it for. Minibus insurance arranged through us can cover a wide range of vehicle types and uses, and we strive to be as competitive as possible with our pricing.
Now let’s take a look at four top challenges for minibus drivers – and share some tips on what you can do about them.
Driving distractions come in all shapes and sizes, from food and drink, to technology and loud or boisterous passengers. The Minibus Driver’s Handbook from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) shares some practical advice on keeping these distractions to a minimum in your minivan.
- Using a hand-held mobile phone at the wheel is of course against the law, but you shouldn't even use hands-free as this can be just as distracting. It could slow your reaction times and increase the risk of crashing. The best thing to do is put your phone away while driving as this will remove the temptation.
- If you rely on a SatNav, set the route before you set off and make sure you come to a full stop if you need to make an alteration. Always have your wits about you with regards to what’s happening on the road and don’t just automatically follow the SatNav. SatNavs can make mistakes too!
- Do not allow passengers to become boisterous or distracting, making sure they stay seated with their seat belts on at all times.
- Save eating and drinking for when you’ve stopped in a safe place.
Driving a bigger vehicle than you’re used to
Though the fundamentals of driving a minibus is similar to driving a car, it’s still a different beast – specifically, a heavier, wider and longer beast. This means that there are notable differences when it comes to braking, steering and other functions. Here are some top tips on safe minibus driving that we go into in more detail in this blog:
- If this is your first time in control of a minivan, it can help to go on some practice drives before you take to the open road. A large and open car park is a good place in which to do this – make sure the pedals, seat and mirror are adjusted appropriately.
- As we mentioned above, it’s important to plan journeys before setting off. Not just because it minimises distractions, but because you may encounter more limitations driving a minibus, for instance if you need to navigate small, country lanes. Make sure you’re aware of the route your SatNav has planned and if you need to switch it up, do so before you leave or when pulled over in a safe place.
- Driving a large vehicle full of passengers can be mentally taxing and demands your full concentration. If you regularly cover long distances you should make sure you stop for at least 15 minutes at least every two to three hours.
- Always check the weather before your trip. Wet and icy conditions will increase stopping distances (so you’ll need to adjust your speed) and high winds will affect your minibus’ handling due to its height. If it’s especially bad outside then it’s best not to drive unless absolutely essential.
Keeping in good health
A minibus driver is a sedentary job, which can over time have a negative impact on your health and wellbeing. To minimise the related risks, you need to make sure you eat well and get plenty of exercise when you’re not working. Here are some handy hints:
- Always make time for breakfast, opting for healthy choices like fresh fruit with yogurt or porridge. Breakfast kick-starts your metabolism and can prevent you from binging or making unhealthy food choices later in the day.
- Don’t skip meals because, again, this could mean that you eat junk food or overeat at mealtime.
- See your work breaks as an opportunity to get up, walk around, stretch your legs and enjoy some fresh air.
- Aim for 75 minutes of intense activity or 150 minutes of moderate activity each week as a minimum. If you don’t feel like you’ll be motivated in a gym, think about joining a class or sports club instead – it’s far more sociable.
Attracting new customers
If your minibus service is part of your larger taxi fleet and you're looking to drum up more interest in it, these tips might help:
- Make sure your minibus service has its own designated website (or at least its own section on your main website) and contains up-to-date information on things like operating times, address, contact details and prices for hire.
- Keep today’s digital-savvy customers happy by incorporating a 24-hour booking service on your website. This should let people book your service in advance – something that can also help your company with future planning.
- Set up social media accounts where you can share company news, updates, offers and feedback from happy customers. Read our recent blog on the 7 target markets for taxi and minibus services.
- If you operate in a small area, reach out to local businesses who may agree to either use your service or advertise it if you do the same for them. Go into these businesses armed with attention-grabbing business cards and leaflets they can hand out to any of their customers interested in your service. Perhaps consider giving out leaflets and business cars to schools and take on the job of being a school minibus.
Remember, you need to protect your investment with minibus insurance. Taxi Insurer are specialists in searching some of the market’s top minibus insurers in an attempt to provide you with great cover at a price that’s right.
Get a quote for minibus insurance today.