Driving a Students' Union Vehicle Safely

Driving Vehicles Safely

All the vehicles can be driven on UK roads.

Minibuses cannot be taken abroad (this includes Southern Ireland/Eire). This is due to differences in European Laws.

The vans and cars may be taken abroad so long as:

  • You provide a risk assessment for your proposed trip
  • You provide a full itinerary
  • You fill in all the usual booking forms
  • You have at least two drivers for each vehicle
  • You make the booking and complete all paperwork at least two weeks before the proposed trip

UK Legislation

All drivers must comply fully at all times with all relevant UK legislation

Alcohol: Drivers must not consume any alcohol or drugs prior to or whilst driving any Portsmouth Student Union vehicle

Weight limit: It is the driver’s responsibility to ensure that the vehicle does not exceed the maximum weight limit of 3500kg. As a rough guide the vehicles are about 2000kg allowing 100kg per person including all their luggage. (An average person is 80kg)

Watch your Speed: Drivers must observe speed limits at all times. The MAXIMUM speed, which vans may travel at is:

Car Van Minibus
Built-up Area 30mph 30mph 30mph
Single Carriageway 60mph 50mph 50mph
Dual Carriageway 70mph 60mph 60mph
Motorway 70mph 70mph 60mph

From January 2007 all minibuses will be fitted with a speed limiter which will restrict the max speed to 62mph. Speed limited vehicles should not travel in the 3rd lane of a 3 lane motorway.
Passengers: It is the driver’s responsibility to ensure that the passenger limit is not exceeded (one passenger per seat), and to inform the passengers that they must behave in a responsible manner.

On the Road

Seat belts:
It is the driver’s responsibility to check that all passengers are wearing a seat belt. However, if the police stop a vehicle, and passengers are found not to be wearing seat belts, the passengers will be held individually responsible and will be charged by the police.

Safe loading:
Any equipment carried in a minibus must be securely fastened, so that it will not cause injury if, for example, the Driver braked suddenly.

Rest Breaks:
No Driver should drive stints of more than:
• 2 hours without a 15 minute break
• 4 hours without at least a 1 hour break.
• 8 hours in any one day (24 hours).This is reduced to 4 hours if the driver is also working or playing sport as well as driving.

Where possible, change to another licensed Driver. Each time drivers change over, this must be logged in the Log Book

Rough Terrain:
Minibuses must not be driven through rough, hazardous and unsuitable terrain (e.g. off-road surfaces, the sea, etc.)

Damage to Buses:
If the vehicle is damaged whilst in your possession, you need to be aware that costs of the repairs may be charged to the group hiring the bus (normally internal damage) or to the driver (where it can be shown to be their fault).

Mobile phones or Handheld device:
They must not be used at all whilst driving union vehicles. All of the above must be fixed to a dashboard holder before starting the journey, the law is clear on when you can use a hand-held device behind the wheel. It is only legal if you are safely parked – and this does not include waiting in traffic or when sat at the traffic lights.


You could be fined £200 and get six points on your licence. 6 points would mean losing your licence if you’re less than two years from passing your test.
Refuse to accept the fixed penalty and you could be taken to court. If the police think the offence so bad that a fixed penalty isn’t enough you could be taken to court.
Fines in court will almost certainly be larger and disqualification is possible – the maximum fine in a court is £1,000, or £2,500 you were driving a bus or a goods vehicle

Driving Licence:
You are strongly advised to take both parts of your driving licence with you if on a long journey in case it becomes necessary to hire another vehicle

First Aid:
All of the Minibuses are equipped with a sealed First Aid Kit and a plaster kit. This is for use in an emergency. If you use anything from this kit, it needs to be replaced, so you MUST report it in the ‘Comments’ section of the Log Book. Additionally, on returning your vehicle you will need to complete an Incident & Accident Report Form detailing the reason why first aid provisions were used.

Unruly passengers:
This is a very rare occurrence, but one that needs to be mentioned. If a passenger ever displays threatening behaviour to the Driver or any other passengers, you must stop the Minibus as soon as is safely possible (e.g. pull into the hard shoulder on a motorway). It is then the Driver’s decision as to when and whether they think that it is safe to continue. This may mean asking the unruly passenger to leave the bus and not continue the journey with the rest of the group. On your return to the Student Union you will need to complete a University Incident & Accident Report Form

Passenger Etiquette

Irresponsible behaviour:
Fines will be issued for passengers found to be behaving irresponsibly (i.e. to the possible detriment of the bus, driver and other passengers), and not adhering to the requests from the driver.

The buses are no smoking zones. Any evidence of such will result in the guilty parties being fined. Where the guilty party is not easily identifiable, the group who has hired out the bus will be fined.

Drinking: No drinking of alcohol is allowed on the bus. Any evidence of such (empty cans/bottles, spillages, stains or smells) will result in the guilty parties being fined. Where the guilty party is not easily identifiable, the group who has hired out the bus will be fined.


Security Do’s and Don’t when parking

A moment’s thought goes a long way towards protecting your vehicle. Here are a few reminders:

• Always check that all doors are locked and all windows are closed
• Make sure that the steering column lock is engaged
• Park in a well-lit area at night, wherever possible
• Don’t leave your key in the ignition even if refuelling or in a garage/carpark
• If the vehicle has deadlocks or is alarmed, make sure that they are engaged
• Don’t leave valuables on show – lock them in the glove box, or take them with you