How Often Should you do a Minibus Safety Inspection?

This article has been updated (January 2023) from the original (published Feb 2018) to include the changes in requirements for the minibus safety inspection.

Minibus Safety Inspections need to be completed every 10 weeks for vehicles under 12 years old and every 6 weeks for vehicles 12 years old and above. To remain compliant with legislation under a Section 19 Permits, minibus operators must complete regular checks and inspections on their minibuses.

There are two types, MOTs and services notwithstanding;

  • Daily/Pre-use walk-around checks – a check of lights, tyres etc before every trip, conducted by the driver
  • Minibus safety inspections – a more in-depth safety check, conducted by a qualified engineer

Updated advice from the DVSA at the end of 2017 states that safety inspections must now be conducted every 10 weeks or 6 weeks if the minibus is over 12 years of age or over, which is significantly more frequent than the old 17-week increments.

In the Government’s Section 19 and 22 permit recommendations it states; ‘bearing in mind that passengers are to be carried on your vehicle, and possibly a number of different drivers used, you should carry out more frequent safety checks. DVSA recommends that inspections are carried out at least every 10 weeks.’

Requirement of a Section 19 Permit application

With the aim of preventing any accidental non-compliance, Rivervale Minibus has been contacting our customers to update them about the new minibus safety inspection guidelines, and we have collated some surprising feedback. Of the 200 schools recently surveyed, out of our 1500 minibus customers;

  • Over 70% of schools did not realise they had to have regular minibus safety inspections to stay compliant under a Section 19 Permit
  • More alarmingly, 60% of schools did not know what a Section 19 Permit is

The Community Transport Association is one of many designated bodies with the ability to issue permits and has stated that they will refuse to grant a permit unless it can be proved that the school minibus is having regular safety inspections ‘Safety inspections should be carried out with a maximum interval between inspections of 10 weeks. Vehicles that are 12 years old or older should be being safety inspected every 6 weeks.’

Since May 2020 the application form for the Section 19 Permit from the DVSA now requires evidence, such as a contract or written agreement, from whoever completes your Minibus Safety Inspections to evidence these are taking place. Rivervale Minibus has seen an organisation denied a Section 19 Permit because they are still only having minibus safety inspections every 17 weeks.

Importance of good record keeping

In a mailshot from the Traffic Commissioner sent at the beginning of 2018, minibus operators are given the practical benefits of proper record keeping, with regards to minibus safety inspections. It says,

‘At a recent public inquiry, Deputy Traffic Commissioner Hugh Olson outlined practical benefits that proper record keeping can have for operators.

  1. Effective maintenance systems – keeping proper records means your maintenance systems are more likely to operate well. Any failures will show up and can be fixed promptly
  2. Prevent future issues – keeping proper records means that if something does go wrong on one of your vehicles, you’ll be able to work out what has gone wrong and what needs to be done to avoid problems in the future
  3. Trust – by keeping proper records you can prove to the traffic commissioner that you are a good operator. Trust is really important. Traffic commissioners have to be able to trust the businesses they grant licenses to. If you have proper records and can produce those to the enforcement agency and traffic commissioner, that trust won’t be broken’

Clear recommendations

Your minibus should be inspected by a qualified engineer either on a 6-weekly or 10-weekly basis, and proper records should be kept for at least 15 months.

However, the mailshot mentioned above goes on to offer a link to the DVSA Guide to Maintaining Roadworthiness, which states ‘The frequency at which inspections are undertaken should be determined by assessing the level of mechanical degradation likely to be incurred over a period as a result of the vehicle’s usage.’ Guide to maintaining road worthiness.

It goes on to describe factors that may determine your intervals but does not give advice on the specifics. This list of factors is followed by the advice that ‘Some operations however, are subject to continuous change, or vehicles can frequently be re-assigned alternative tasks or routes, making the adoption of a strictly time-based inspection programme impracticable. Mileage-based inspection programmes may be more suitable for some operators but will need to be linked to time.’ If you are concerned that this may apply to you then you need to speak to your local traffic commissioner to get their advice.

Arranging 6 or 10-week Minibus Safety inspections

Rivervale Minibus provides 10 and 6 week minibus safety inspections using a fleet of mobile engineers who will come and complete the inspections on your premises. This mean you do not need to work out how to deliver and pick up your vehicles. Minibus Safety Inspections can also help identify any potential issues with your vehicle early on, before any significant damage happens.

Give us a call 01273 433 480 to arrange your minibus safety inspections and know we will not only support you with this service but can keep copies of the inspection records for you as a backup.

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