Any company you use to transport children must have good safety standards and a good safety record. We recommend that you stand up for safety and ask the below questions before booking. You don't have to ask these questions verbally; in fact it's better if you get the answers in writing. You could fax or email them the questions:
- How old is the vehicle? (Hire a reasonably new vehicle - it will be more likely to have safety features and be in a good state of repair.)
- When was it last maintained? (Generally, the answer should be within weeks.)
- Does someone do a pre-drive walk-around of the vehicle before it is driven to our premises, to check that basics such as tyres, wheels and lights are in working order?)
- Who does your maintenance? (You want to know that whoever does it is reputable eg. our modern Mercedes Benz coaches are maintained by the local Mercedes Benz specialist garage *or *we maintain our coaches in house, but our mechanics receive refresher training directly from Mercedes Benz on a regular basis and are highly qualified and experienced)
- What guarantee can you give me that the driver you provide will be highly trained and have a low crash record? Do your drivers have advanced driving certificates? Are their standards of driving assessed annually by you?
- What guarantee can you give me that the driver you provide will be fit to drive? Do you have any systems in place above and beyond the requirements of driver hours' law to ensure that drivers aren't tired? Do you check your drivers regularly to identify any alcohol or drug abuse?
- Do you record your crashes and near-misses, and, if so, do you have a good and improving record?
- Do you carry out regular risk audits and have you recently implemented any safety measures not identified through the above questions?
Once you have asked these questions of several operators you will have a list of preferred suppliers so you won't have to ask the questions every time you use them - although it is advisable to ask them intermittently (for example, once a year) as part of your road safety policy.