Training To Become A Coach Driver

All of us, at one point in our lives, have travelled by coach. Whether it’s been on the way to a school trip, a holiday abroad, as a sports team going on tour, or even travelling from the end of the country to another for just £1.

But what about if you want to train to be behind the wheel of one of these behemoths of the road? If you have some previous driving experience and enjoy working with people, then becoming a coach driver could be for you.

So what training do you need in order to become a coach driver?

How Can I Become A Coach Driver?

In order to be a coach driver you must have the following to begin training:

  • You must be over 18 years of age
  • You must hold a full UK driving licence that allows you to drive a car
  • You must have gotten a D2 form and D4 form from your GP or private medical firm;

A D4 is a medical form that helps to prove you are in good health – including your eyesight – and you must be shown to be in good health before you can begin training.

Order your D2 and D4 forms here.

SEE ALSO: How Can I Become A Taxi Driver?

What Licences Do I Need?

In order to qualify as a bus or coach driver, you need to complete training for both a Passenger Carrying Vehicle (PCV) licence and also a Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) certificate.

A PCV licence takes around four to six weeks to complete and will involve both a theory and practical test, much like a driving test on a car.

Coaching The Coach Drivers

The process of training to become a bus or coach driver is made up of four tests, all of which contribute towards your CPC certificate. The test sections are as follows:

  • Part 1: Theory

Much like you did when you passed your driving test for your car, this section is made up of both a theory test and a hazard perception test.

The theory test is made up of 100 questions, while the hazard perception test has 19 videos you’ll have to watch. In both tests, the pass mark is quite high (85 out of 100 for theory and 67 out of 100 for hazard perception).

Should you fail the test first time, you can book another test but you’ll have a three-day grace period first before you can sit the test again. Once you’ve passed this section, you can then move onto section two, which makes use of case studies to test you.

  • Part 2: Case Studies

This section tests your ability to react to certain situations and makes use of case studies in order to test you.

There are 7 case studies in all, and all are based on situations that you’re likely to encounter in your work as a coach driver. All questions will have a multi-choice question at the end, and the pass rate is around 40 correct out of 50 questions.

Upon passing the test, you’ll receive a pass letter which then gives you up to two years to take and pass Part 4 – you can’t apply for part 4 without this number so keep it safe.

  • Part 3: Driving Ability

Part 3 is when you will actually start driving, and you’ll need to have passed Part 1 before even starting this section. In order to complete the test, you must ensure that you have access to a coach or lorry that meets the test standards.

This can be provided by an employer or by yourself, in either case, you must ensure that the vehicle is covered by a coach insurance policy before you begin.

Part 3 of the CPC certificate will test you on the following:

  • Vehicle safety questions
  • Practical driving
  • Off-road exercises

You’ll be asked various questions about the vehicle and how to ensure you keep the vehicle and its passengers safe.

For the practical side of things, your examiner will be checking for many aspects of your driving ability, and will be checking your abilities to do the following:

  • Using the controls of the vehicle
  • Control and maintain the speed of your vehicle
  • Making use of the mirrors in order to check for traffic and for safe manoeuvring
  • Perform a controlled stop in the event of an emergency
  • Finding safe places to stop
  • Awareness of the actions of other road users
  • Moving away from angles, including while uphill and downhill
  • Use the appropriate signals when performing manoeuvres
  • Dealing with hazards

Off-road exercises will include hitching a trailer, as well as performing a reversing manoeuvre into a bay.

There will also be a ten-minute period of independent driving, where your examiner will remain silent and see how you react to situations on your own.

Upon passing Part 3, there’s one final part you must pass in order to obtain a CPC licence:

  • Part 4: Practical Demonstration

This section is made up of four sections and will focus on vehicular safety, the correct procedure to load the vehicle, assessing situations during an emergency, as well as techniques to identify and stop human trafficking.

Once You’ve Passed

After passing all four sections, you will then be sent your CPC card which you will need to produce in order to secure a job as a coach or bus driver.

You may also need some additional training on traffic signs in Europe. If you work for a company which takes coaches abroad, your employer should provide this where needed. Also, in order to keep their skills fresh and to prove to the DVLA of their abilities, coach drivers must take a minimum of 35 hours of CPC training every five years, or renew their licence if they’re over 45.

Travelling With A Horse Trailer

Whether it’s moving them from grazing fields, transporting them to the vet or to an event or show, travelling with a horse can be a tricky and stressful experience for both owner and animal if not done correctly.

Horse trailers can be particularly cumbersome on the road, especially if the animal contained within suddenly spooks and upsets the balance of the trailer, which could lead to sudden movements that can potentially cause incidents while on the road.

Do I Need A Special Licence To Tow A Horse Trailer?

Before you even think about towing a trailer, you must make sure you are qualified to do so. Depending on what year you obtained your driving licence can affect what you are able to tow, and you may need to pass an additional test, known as Category B+E status, on your driving licence before you can drive while towing a trailer, this is known as Maximum Authorised Mass (MAM).

  • Licences gained before 19th January 2013 – able to tow a MAM of up to 3.5 tonnes
  • Licences gained from January 1st, 1997 – able to tow a MAM of up to 3.5 tonnes

What Should I Check Before I Set Off?

When preparing your horse and trailer for a trip there are a few things you should check in order to ensure a smooth journey for yourself and your horse.

  • Check the condition of your trailer

It is important that you check your trailer before you travel, checking for any defects or damage before you set off. Keep the following checklist in mind:

  • Check engine
  • Check tyres on vehicle
  • Check trailer connection/hitch
  • Check tow bar
  • Check tyres on trailer (including spare)
  • Check number plate is attached

Ensure that you also check that your indicators and brake lights are working correctly before setting off. As well as the condition of the vehicle itself, you must also bear its mass in mind, and this will involve the weight of your vehicle, the trailer and the horse within, as explained below.

  • Check your weights before setting off

When it comes to towing weight, there are limits as to how much you can tow on a regular car licence that includes towing (B+E grade).

Remember that the combined weight of vehicle, trailer and animals in each vehicle will have a different MAM limit, so be sure to work this out before you travel.

When working out the weight of your load you must bear in mind the following aspects:

  • Weight and towing capacity of your vehicle
  • Weight of unladen trailer and any equipment you are storing on board
  • Weight of the horse(s) you will be transporting

Weigh your animals carefully using a weight station and keep an eye on the towing capacity of your vehicle – whether you use a 4×4 or a Land Rover – ensure that you are within the legal limit for towing with your vehicle before you set off.

Allow a little leeway when it comes to weight to include equipment such as tack, as well as feed and water to ensure that your animal is comfortable during the journey.

  • Be careful when loading and unloading

Horses can be unpredictable beasts, especially when it comes to leading them onto a trailer, so make sure you have all the correct equipment and manpower to safely lead your horse onto the trailer.

Some horses will take to it easily, some won’t, but ensure that you are prepared for any situation; keep your staff safe by ensuring they wear protective clothing and that your horse has plenty of food and water waiting in the trailer for when you succeed in boarding them.

  • Keep your horse safe and secure

Ensure that, once in the trailer, your horse has plenty of room to move within the confines of the trailer and has access to a good amount of food and water during the journey – even if it’s just a short one.

Ensure that your horse has adequate protection during the journey; including using horse blankets and leg protection such as bandages or padded boots before you travel – particularly on long journeys.

The most important thing to make sure when transporting horses is that they have a valid horse passport before you transport them to ensure that they can be transported within the UK. If you’re looking to take your horse abroad you may need a separate horse passport for another country, so it’s best to double check before you travel.

Get Insured Before You Set Off

You must also ensure that you have relevant horse trailer insurance in place before you travel in order to help cover you in the event of an accident caused by a third party. Different policies will have different features, including some which will allow you to transport your horses to nearby stables while you get repairs sorted.

If you find yourself breaking down en-route the best thing you can do, both for your sake and your horses, is to keep calm and contact a breakdown service, who will help to get you and your animal back on the road as quickly as possible, or arrange for time to be spent at local stables if not.

If you still need more information, you can download a free Horsebox and Trailer Owner Guide from gov.uk.

How Can I Become A Taxi Driver?

We’ve all had to make use of a taxi at some point, whether to take us home from the pub, from the supermarket, or even to the hospital in times of need.

And of course, we’re familiar with the black Hackney cabs driven by cabbies in London, who hone their skills over many years to be able to get you from one side of the city to the other as quickly as possible (and maybe even throw in some local knowledge while they’re at it).

But how does one become a taxi driver? Maybe you’re thinking of a career change and like the idea of using your car as a private hire vehicle, or quite fancy driving one of those iconic Hackney cabs?

Starting Off

UPDATE: As per Gov.uk’s announcement, you no longer need to apply through your local council and pass a DVSA taxi assessment to be eligible to drive a Private Hire Vehicle (PHV). You may visit this website to see how you can apply for a driver’s licence for taxis and PHVs.

Councils will differ in their criteria, but the universal requirements for obtaining a taxi licence are that you’ll need the following:

  • Be a UK citizen
  • You must be over 18 years of age
  • A full and valid driving licence that you’ve held for at least 12 months
  • A medical certificate confirming that you are in good health (Group II Medical form)
  • You must have passed a criminal records background check (DBS check)
  • Pass a driving skills assessment test (see below)
  • In some cases; you’ll have to pass a geographical driving test, especially in the area you wish to operate

Once your application has been accepted, you’ll need to pass a Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) test to qualify for a taxi licence.

What Does The Assessment Involve?

Much like a normal driving test for your car, a taxi assessment will first test your eyesight, and you’ll be required to read a licence plate from a distance of 20 metres, and if you require glasses, you must wear them during the test.

You will then move onto a practical assessment, which will involve certain manoeuvres, including:

  • Identifying traffic and road signs and answering questions from the Highway Code
  • 10 minutes of solo driving without being given instructions by the examiner
  • Performing a manoeuvre to turn your vehicle to face in the opposite direction
  • Stop at the side of the road as if picking up a passenger
  • What to do if a passenger leaves property in your vehicle after being dropped off
  • Perform an emergency stop

Upon passing the assessment, you’ll then receive a pass certificate (TPH10 form) as well as a copy of your assessment and some notes from your examiner, both of which you’ll need for the next step in your application.

What’s The Next Step?

Depending on which council you wish to drive for, each will have its own set of criteria for taxi drivers, and many will require you to pass a ‘knowledge test’, which essentially tests your knowledge of the local area.

Once you’ve passed all the relevant tests required, your council will then issue (for a fee) a taxi licence; these are issued on a year-long basis, you can then begin the process of deciding what sort of environment you want to work in.

Sole Trader Or Fleet Driver?

When you first start out as a driver, it can be worth finding a local taxi company to start work with to gain some experience. Being part of a fleet means you get orders distributed to you as they are rung into the main office.

Ridesharing allows you to operate as a solo driver, through use of an app such as Uber, so you can take fares on the go and dictate your own workload. However, you’ll need to arrange for a special type of taxi insurance on your own vehicle on top of your car insurance policy.

Whether you choose to be your own boss or work as part of a taxi company, ensuring you’re qualified for the job is essential to keep you, your passengers and your employer safe.