Top tips for driving a minibus in the UK - Essential advice for safe journeys

A minibus is a heftier, wider and lengthier vehicle than the average car: when driving a minibus, you’ll experience a considerable difference in braking, steering and more. In addition to this, you’ll likely be transporting a greater number of passengers, so it’s essential to brush up on minibus-safety tips before you hit the road.


If you own a minibus fleet, you need to protect your investment with specialist cover. Your drivers will face a variety of driving conditions and customers on a daily basis, so no risk can ever be ruled out entirely. It also may benefit you to learn more about your target market as a minibus hire service.


Taxi Insurer understands how unpredictable work behind the wheel can be. We can arrange taxi fleet insurance tailored to your business and vehicles, enabling you to cover the whole fleet with one straightforward policy.


We’re here to help, so take a look at our top tips on safe minibus driving…


Take a few practice drives


Make sure you practice driving a minibus before hitting busy roads in one, especially if this will be your first time behind the wheel of a larger vehicle.


Take it for a test drive somewhere quiet, such as large, empty car park or a residential road, and get used to manoeuvring in it.


You’ll want to adjust the mirrors and seat, making sure you have good visibility and are able to reach the pedals with ease.

A driver holding up the key in-front of the steering wheel

Avoid distractions


While passengers should never attempt to distract a driver when they’re out on the road, this becomes even more important when travelling in a vehicle as large as a minibus.


Let passengers know that it is not acceptable to get up and move around when in transit, nor is it ok to become excessively loud or raucous. Make sure everyone is wearing a seatbelt and set ground rules before you set off.


Limit conversation with your passengers, focusing on the road ahead. Keep the radio at a low volume and never drive when you’re tired or impaired.


RoSPA states that minibus drivers should never use a hand-held or hands-free phone when driving, as doing so could cause a distraction and slow down your reaction time, increasing the chance of a serious accident occurring.


Map out your journey


It’s best to plan your journey in advance, before setting out in a minibus, as you’ll face more limitations than you would in the average vehicle.


For example, navigating narrow country lanes will be more difficult in a vehicle as hefty as a minibus, heightening the risk of damage or a collision occurring.


If you choose to use a sat nav, programme your route before you hit the road. Should the need for an alteration to your journey arise, pull over somewhere safe before making any adjustments to the satnav.


Take extra breaks


Driving a minibus requires a consistently high level of concentration and vigilance, which can get pretty exhausting after a while.


If you’re travelling long distances, make sure you have a little break once every two to three hours at a minimum.

A busy motorway in the evening

Consider the weather


Check the weather forecast before heading out in a minibus. Severe weather conditions can mean high winds, heavy rain or snow, ice, fog and impaired visibility, lessening a vehicle’s grip on the road and making for more dangerous driving conditions.


Larger vehicles are harder to control than the average car, so unless you absolutely must, avoid driving a minibus in bad weather.


Factor in the extra height


Take note of your minibus’s height before driving. You’ll need to factor this is into your route planning, otherwise you may encounter height restrictions or low bridges when driving, forcing you to manoeuvre out of a tight spot.


Take extra care in low underground or multi-storey car parks, too.


Plan before overtaking


Minibuses tend to be designed with power rather than high speed in mind. You won’t be able to accelerate as rapidly as you can in a regular vehicle, so it’s important to bear this in mind when considering changing lanes or overtaking.


It will take you longer to manoeuvre than normal, so make sure you indicate well before you attempt make a move, carefully watching nearby traffic and leaving plenty of space.


You may not be able to see everything in your wing mirrors, so don’t get complacent when manoeuvring back into a lane after overtaking.


Know your speed limits


Did you know that, on some roads, speed limits are lower for minibuses than they are for cars?


RoSPA states that the following speed limits should be observed when driving a minibus:


  • Single carriageways: 50mph (unless signed otherwise)
  • Dual carriageways: 60mph (unless signed otherwise)
  • Built-up roads: 30mph (unless signed otherwise)
  • Motorway: 70mph (unless signed otherwise)
  • Motorway: 60mph (if the minibus exceeds 12 metres in length)

 A speed limit road sign

Allow for a longer stopping distance


Larger vehicles mean longer stopping distances. Carefully watch the road ahead at all times, anticipating when you might need to stop, and leave plenty of space between you and the vehicle in front.


Give yourself extra room to manoeuvre


Minibuses are longer than the average vehicle, so they require a more generous turning circle.


When driving a minibus, you’ll need to make wider turns in order to ensure your back wheels take a corner without cutting across it – this is even more vital when taking corners lined by walls, fences, bollards or buildings.


Take into account the need for extra room when backing into a space or reversing, as well.


Plan for emergencies


Keep an emergency pack in your minibus, including:


  • A first aid kit. Read our basics to first aid for minibus drivers to help you get a grasp of using one.
  • Food and water
  • A warning triangle
  • A torch and spare batteries
  • High-vis jackets
  • A shovel
  • Warm clothing and blankets
  • An ice scraper

 An ice covered windscreen

Secure reliable taxi fleet insurance


Even the most diligent drivers are unable to predict what’s around the corner; if you own a minibus fleet, it’s important to acknowledge the increased level of risk attached to such large vehicles.


The Taxi Insurer can arrange dependable taxi fleet insurance, designed to fit around your unique requirements, so you can give yourself peace of mind your business investment’s covered.


Our policies also come with perks such as:


  • A 24-hour claims management service
  • The option to pay in instalments
  • A UK-based call centre


Don’t put it off, get a quote today.