Driving a minibus in the UK is actually surprisingly easy – you can do so on just your regular car drivers license! There are some set rules you must adhere to though, so read on to find out more.
Age: you must be over 21 years old to drive a minibus in the UK. You should have held your driving license for at least 2 years too.
Type of bus: you may drive a minibus which can seat up to 16, as long as it weighs no more than 3.5 tonnes (4.25 tonnes if carrying equipment for disabled users such as ramps).
Restrictions: if you are aged over 70, you must ensure you meet the criteria for medical status group 2 vehicles. This is the group for driving lorries and buses. The medical rules are quite strict, especially if you are prone to blackouts and seizures.
Abroad: you may be able to drive abroad! Check with the country you are travelling to by contacting their licensing group.
There are many good reasons to hire a car when you go away somewhere – firstly it allows you to travel around as soon as you arrive without any fuss and bother of public transport, secondly it works out very good value for money.
When you think that it costs money to get on a train, if you have to get a return ticket it can be even more expensive. The beauty of hiring a car is you can simply drive away and have the freedom to travel when it suits you.
There are some things to bear in mind though, and these can end up being costly.
- insurance – check the car hire has relevant insurance in place. If you are fully comprehensive on your own car, you may be covered in a hire car, but it is always best to double check first.
- Fuel limits – check with the hire company if there are any rules regarding fuel. Some companies ask you to refill the car before returning it, others ask you to return it empty. Always check what they want you to do!
Diesel cars were once promoted as a great, lower risk vehicle which does less damage to the environment than petrol vehicles. We are now being told that this is not the case anymore – it has been found that diesel actually emits much higher levels of nitrogen monoxide, which is highly damaging to human living conditions. There are a whole raft of new laws coming into play over the next few years in the UK in order to stem the flow of these dangerous chemicals into the air. Some of these laws involve taxing older diesel vehicles much higher amounts than their petrol counterparts.
In London, the congestion charge will be increased for polluting diesel vehicles, adding an extra fee to drive within the congestion zone with a diesel car or van. This will end up costing diesel drivers much more to drive in the capital. It is thought that many other major cities and towns will establish similar “low emission zones” which will charge diesel drivers more to drive in them.
Some drivers believe these new charges are unfairly hitting diesel drivers, seeing as petrol cars also emit dangerous fumes. It is believed that the environment ministers in the 1990s actually knew that diesel cars would emit dangerous levels of the chemicals, but they thought the car manufacturers would make changes to their cars.
When we fill our cars up with fuel, we hope that it will last a long time, mostly because fuel is very expensive these days as well as being a hassle to fill. We can use a few tips to get the most out of our fuel tanks.
- check your tyre pressure – having correctly inflated tyres will mean your car drives more efficiently, causing you to get the most out of your fuel. If you regularly travel with passengers and luggage it is worth checking what the pressure should be, as it is often different to when there is only a driver in the car.
- If you drive a lot, it is worth buying the more expensive premium fuels at the pumps. Although they are more expensive, you do get a cleaner fuel which can burn more efficiently as it has less particles of rubbish in it which is not burnable.
In the UK, we are used to experiencing poor weather during the winter months, with plenty of rain, frost and ice thrown in for good measure! If you are driving in the UK it is important to know how to adapt your driving to suit the poorer weather conditions at this time of year for safe and comfortable driving.
Visibility can be dramatically reduced in bad weather, with spray from other cars sometimes making visibility drop to nothing. This means we need to anticipate other driver’s actions even earlier than we might have.
We should keep our cars well maintained all through the year, but it is especially important during the winter. Check that your tyres are pumped up to the right amount and that the treads are at least 1.6mm deep. This is the legal limit, and helps to keep the car gripping onto the tarmac.
Stopping distances are much longer when the road is wet and even more so when it is icy! Make sure you allow enough time to come to a stop and anticipate others actions before hand.
If you are jetting away to places new, it is somewhat likely that you’ll be hoping to travel around a bit. If you have the chance, why not hire a car? This gives you maximum flexibility as well as the opportunity to travel a little off the beaten track, away from other tourists and public transport. There are some things to know if you plan to hire your car at an airport.
- Make sure you attend at the time stated on your booking – if you have prebooked, you’ll have been given a time allocation to pick up your car. If you are going to be very late, it is definitely worth contacting the hire agency to let them know, as you might lose your booking or deposit.
- Read the small print – If you are handed a contract to read, make sure you do actually read it, it might have some important information in regarding fuel useage, whether you need to refuel prior to returning the car, or if there are any restrictions on mileage.
- Inspect the car and take photos before you leave – this way if there are any quibbles about the state of the car when you return it, you have photographic evidence of the car’s state when you collected it.
When looking to hire a car, we need to think of a few particular points to ensure we choose the right car for our needs.
Firstly, think budget. It is important to have an idea of how much money you want to spend on your hire car. Some companies offer some incredible cars to hire, but these are likely to be on the very expensive end! If you have a set budget, it limits down the sorts of cars you can decide from.
Family is next up on the list – if you have small children with car seats, buggies and other paraphenalia, you will need to hire a car which is big enough to fit all this into. Some economy models will simply not be big enough for car seats and luggage, so you might need to be flexible with the budget.
Mod cons – if you are a lone traveller or part of a couple, you may be able to get an economy car with some of the latest mod cons like sat nav, dvd player or heated seats. If you are happy to go for a smaller vehicle, you might have some budget left to add a few luxuries.
Did you know that people who drive rental cars are more likely to drive economically and are less likely to waste fuel? This is a good reason for more people to consider hiring a car rather than buying one.
Hire companies often have rules when it comes to mileage and fuel, which means their customers have to look more carefully at the miles they do and the amount of fuel they use. This is not something we tend to do when we own a car, but seems to get people to be more considerate about their car useage.
Reports have also stated that car hire users tend to combine their car hire with other forms of transport, which effectively means they are using public transport too. This could be down to the fact thier fuel is limited and they are set with a particular mileage to use. Whatever the reasons it is great that car hire is proving better for the environment than standard car ownership!
There’s a reason why cars have two front seats! One of you needs to be a great passenger. Here’s our top tips for being the best passenger around…
- Playlist – come prepared with an ace playlist to keep yourselves happy and entertained!
- SatNav – you need to be in charge of the sat nav – at least you don’t need to use paper maps any more!
- Mobile phone charger – make sure you have one which can connect to the car…nothing worse than running low on juice when you have an hour or more to go!
- Snacks – obviously, passengers are in charge of in car snacks! Sweets and crisps are a given.
- Torch – you never know when you may be stuck on the roadside in the dark!
- Cleaning wipes – to get rid of the sticky mess on your phone from all the sweets…
- Stories – nothing worse than a silent passenger who has no fun stories to tell!
From June 2015, anybody looking to hire a car in the UK or abroad will need to have gotten an access code from the DVLA in order for the car hire company to check their licence. Since June 2015, the paper counterpart of the license has not really been in use, instead, a digital system is used. The car hire company will need a code to access your license details.
The code can be gained from the DVLA and is valid for 72 hours, so you’ll need to plan in advance when you require it.
It is important for car hire companies to check their customers have the correct licenses, and if any penalty points will affect them hiring the vehicle. Of course, your photocard does not say if you have any points, and it is important for car hire companies to know whether you are legal to drive or not.