Parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, the general public, schools and colleges.
United Kingdom

Nightcap launched in February 2014. In the first 48 hours almost 500 coach drivers joined. By September this rose to well over 1,000. They joined for one reason. They want to make children safer on school trips. They need parents, schools & the public to support this petition.

The problem is this…coach drivers are reporting that they are often tired when behind the wheel of their coach on school trips abroad. The reason they are tired is because they are not getting enough sleep and are kept awake by others. The solution is to provide them with an appropriate hotel room of their own in a quiet area of the hotel. It is that simple!

Currently, a significant number of coach drivers:
• Share rooms on school trips with a co-driver even when they are of the opposite sex.
• Share a room with a driver from different company that they have never met before.
• Are often provided with some of the worst rooms in the hotel as they are not seen as paying guests.

It could be argued that the coach driver is the most important person on the coach! All drivers need to have the required rest periods by law but BUSK has learned that far too many are subjected to poor accommodation where they are prevented from a good nights sleep because of another driver snoring or from other high noise levels from other residents in the hotel.

Examples of why drivers cannot get adequate sleep include:
• Rooms above kitchens that are very hot and when the window is open for fresh air, the kitchen noises are very loud from dishes clattering, to extractor fans and the chef shouting.
• Rooms by lift shafts and fire doors that open and shut frequently by other guests.
• Rooms above entertainment areas that are noisy into the early morning hours.
• Rooms on the same corridor as the children who are naturally excitable as they are on a trip.
• Some rooms are within rooms with no windows for light or ventilation.

At some adventure holiday sites drivers are handed a tent and expected to use these for a week. OK for children on the activity holiday to rough it. It is after all, an adventure break but drivers are not on holiday. They are working and require proper accommodation.

The Government's own campaign effectively reminds us all that tiredness kills. There is a significant and unacceptable risk directly associated with room sharing. Drivers report that the last day of the trip is particularly a problem because they must try to sleep in the day time before the long haul 21 hour drive from abroad to the UK. This often means driving through the night. All too often drivers will not have any facility to rest or sleep on the last day of the trip. This is because teachers check the party out of the hotel after breakfast including the drivers and then they will go off on another day of activities. Drivers are left to hang around all day and at departure around 21:00 they will begin the long-haul 21 hours drive back to the UK, having been awake all day, all evening and all through the night.

Drivers that do not get enough sleep are admitting they are fatigued at the beginning of the journey even though their Drivers' Hours Regulations have not been exceeded or even begun. One study suggested that fatigue plays is linked in up to 30% of crashes involving coaches. These crashes happen on motorways and in the early morning hours. With published figures to support the view that there is an apparent increase in fatal crashes in the early morning and towards the end of the working day, the 21 hour long haul journey begins around 21:00 hours and through this early morning period. This increase is noted more on motorways than other road types. (Source: European Commission Report June 2009).

Parents are not aware of the associated risks to their child and schools booking the trip would never think of why drivers should not share rooms…why would they? No-one has brought this to their attention until now.

Drivers are deeply concerned about this and are worried that they may be involved in a road traffic collision. Drivers are concerned about the safety of the children they are transporting and are telling BUSK they struggle to stay alert. The solution? It is very simple and in the hands of parents and schools. Schools, please insist that the tour company you book with, will provide each driver with a suitable room where they can rest, relax and sleep so they are refreshed and safe behind the wheel at the beginning of every journey. Tour companies a legal duty of care to ensure the drivers they book to drive on a school trip, are properly accommodated to allow them to rest adequately. BUSK believes many tour companies are failing in this respect resulting in children, teachers and coach drivers being placed at risk.

Parents, many of you will paying up to £1,000 or more, for your child's school visit abroad. It will cost you just an estimated extra £10 so that your child's coach will be driven by two relaxed, well rested drivers who are free from fatigue. Tired drivers are dangerous drivers. 1,000 + drivers can't be wrong, can they?

Please feel free to contact BUSK directly.

BUSK UK Tel: 01633 274944

Dear Education Minister,

The undersigned are directly appealing to you to make all educational establishments in the UK aware of a safety breach currently putting children, teachers and coach drivers at risk or being involved in a road traffic collision when they undertake school trips abroad.

When teachers book a school trip, they normally use a tour company that will organise everything to include the ferry crossing, coach travel, accommodation and some of the activities.

This is a great way to book the trip to save busy teachers a lot of time from sourcing everything individually. However, teachers will not be aware than most coach drivers are required to share rooms and in a significant number of cases, are provided with some of the worst rooms in a hotel as they are not seen as paying guests. This means their sleep is compromised resulting in drivers becoming fatigued. The drivers are therefore not as alert as they need to be and this is of huge concern to them and should be of concern to everyone including you.

The undersigned need you to make teachers and bursars aware that at point of hire, they should be asking the tour company to include as part of the written contract, that each driver will have a room of their own in a quiet area of the hotel, away from the rest of the party.

We want to bring to your attention that tour companies have a legal duty of care to ensure they book drivers into accommodation where they know they will have adequate sleep. This just is not happening in an alarming number of school trips. There is an additional cost, but this cost would be met by parents who are not going to refuse to pay an estimated extra £10 on top of the hundreds of pounds they will already be paying for the whole trip.

Schools do not even think about this issue and why would they? It has not been brought to their attention but as Education Minister, you have the power to ensure every school and college has this crucial information. As for parents, what parent would refuse to pay another £10 to safeguard their child?

BUSK now knows that up to 30% of coach crashes is linked to driver fatigue. This is a serious issue and needs immediate action. We ask you to take that action now please. After all, over 1,000 drivers have told BUSK it is a problem. BUSK and the undersigned are acting in the best interests of children, teachers, drivers and other road users. This is not a Drivers' Hours Regulation matter. It is a lack of sleep issue and a solution is easy once parents and schools are better informed.

Thank you.

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