If you drive a minibus and you are found to be breaking the rules at a roadside check, you could find yourself with a Fixed Penalty Fine.
These tough new measures apply to drivers of all minibuses, buses, coaches and other vehicles whether driven by volunteers or professionals.
Enforcement officers or the police who discover vehicle defects including other offences such as exceeding the drivers’ hours limits or overloading will have the power to issue offending drivers with a Fixed Penalty notice rather than attending court.
Responsibility for the minibus rests ultimately with the driver, so you may collect penalty points on your driving licence as well as incurring financial penalties.
So how can you avoid these penalties? VOSA estimates that over 30% of mechanical defects can be easily identified by the driver undertaking a statutory walk around check, either before the day’s travel or during the course of the journey.
To find out how not to break these rules and avoid these fixed penalty notices find out more through our Minibus road safety section.
VOSA roadside examiners are trialling the new Driver Validation Service (DVS) system at roadside spot checks with laptops. Provided by the DVLA, this application allows examiners to access the driver licence database of more than 44 million driver records – 26 million of which include the driver’s photographic identity and signature.
VOSA currently has 50 examiners using this real-time information on a 24/7 basis to identify driving licence offences. The information is used as part of an intelligence-led approach to enforcement and helps VOSA to target any non-compliant minibus operators and drivers.
Non-complying offences include identifying drivers with the incorrect or absent category on their licence for the vehicle driven.
Minibuses still remain the most complicated vehicle, licence-wise, to drive. Many car-licence holding minibus drivers could find themselves driving legally one day and then illegally the next as driver exceptions vary according to different circumstances.
If you drive a minibus on your car licence check out the “Can I legally drive a minibus?” section before you fall victim to the Driver Validation Service (DVS) system.
A radical overhaul of the Blue Badge scheme was announced today by Transport Minister Paul Clark. Up to £55 million will be dedicated to ensuring that the disabled parking scheme meets the needs of the 21st Century.
For the first time Government is looking to give councils the power to confiscate stolen or forged Blue Badges immediately when they find them. This is to help reduce Blue Badge associated vehicle crime, as well as safeguarding key parking, close to vital services, for those who need it most. 73% of respondents to the recent Blue Badge consultation highlighted this as key way to fight abuse of the scheme.
The biggest review of the Blue Badge, since it was created in 1971, will also enable more people than ever to retain their independence, The strategy commits to extending the scheme to seriously disabled Armed Forces personnel and veterans, people with temporary but serious mobility problems, young children with specific disabilities and individuals with severe mental impairments.
Paul Clark said: "The Blue Badge already provides a vital lifeline for more than 2.3 million disabled people in England. It helps them retain their independence by making it easier to access vital services, visit friends and family, as well as to seek work or education. That is why it is so important to make sure that it meets the needs of today's society.
"Two thirds of councils tell us abuse of the scheme is a major issue - and that around 1 in every 200 Badges in circulation are reported as stolen each year. And with forged or stolen Badges reportedly being sold on the black market for up to £1,500 a time, it is time to get tough and stop Blue Badge abuse and vehicle crime.
"Alongside this we need to make sure that everyone who needs a Badge receives one, and that is why I have today announced that we will be extending the scope of the scheme."
To support immediate confiscation of misused badges a £10m national data sharing system will be established by councils to ensure stolen or forged Badges from outside their local area can be easily identified for the first time.
The Department for Transport is also looking at new technologies to make Badges harder to forge, including barcodes that can be read through windscreens.
Helen Smith Mobilise Director of Policy and Campaigns said: "Mobilise has been campaigning for a review of the Blue Badge scheme for many years and so we welcome this announcement of the new Blue Badge strategy.
"Unfortunately too many people are misusing and abusing Blue Badges and this means the scheme is no longer benefiting the people that it should. Only by ensuring that people meeting the qualifying criteria are issued with badges and abuse of the scheme is taken very seriously will the scheme work again as it was intended.
"I therefore hope that this strategy will tackle these issues and ensure that disabled people are able to get out and about and park a lot more easily."
A new system of assessing eligibility for the Blue Badge is also being developed, with dedicated independent medical assessors, who will ensure that only those who really need a Badge receive one. This will standardise assessments throughout the country, and lighten the workload of GPs, who currently carry out individual assessments in many areas.
Nine councils have been awarded the status 'Centre of Excellence'. This is in recognition of their innovative work in administering and enforcing the Blue Badge Scheme. They will share good practice that has worked well in their local area and drive up improvements in management of the scheme with other local authorities.
A committee of parents and friends of the Boys’ Brigade, 5th Scarborough Company, has been set up to plan activities to raise the £10,000 needed for the Build a Bus Appeal.
Captain Mike Colbeck has already raised £800 from a sponsored slim if he manages to lose three stone by Christmas and is already half way to reaching his target.
Other activities planned for the company, which meets at Queen Street Methodist Central Hall, include members filling Smarties Tubes with money, a family quiz night and a Ready Steady Cook event between Capt Colbeck and the Rev Geoff Bowell.
There will also be a collection of used clothes to raise money.
For further information about the fundraising contact Mike Colbeck on (01723) 372668.or visit the Boys’ Brigade, 5th Scarborough Company website (opens new window).
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