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Schools 'need to act' following shock coach safety report

Schools 'need to act' following shock coach safety report

West Country schools need to act to ensure their transport suppliers follow safety rules following a shock report by ITV, say the region’s longest established coach operators.

An ITV News investigation found almost one in five school buses - checked by safety officials - had defects, and the number is increasing year on year. Figures revealed by the Driver Vehicle Safety Agency showed that this figure is up 5% on last year.

Bakers Dolphin, one of the West Country’s leading coach operators, has recently been asked by local authorities to take over contracts for a number of schools as a result of the failure of rival coach companies.

Managing director Max Fletcher said: “These findings will be of major concern for parents and guardians whose children use coaches to travel to and from school, as well as for getting to events such as sports fixtures, educational days and field trips.

“It is a wake-up call for the coach industry but it should also be a wake-up call for those in education who all too often, simply choose their school transport based on who puts in the lowest tender.

“Teachers and governors of schools have both a legal and moral responsibility for the safety and welfare of children whilst in their care and they should act following this report and check the operators have proper safety systems in place.”

Bakers Dolphin, which has its headquarters in Weston-super-Mare, produced transport safety guideline materials for schools last year that included a video on safer coach travel, providing peace of mind for governors and teachers.

The company is member of the Guild of British Coach Operators which provides independent quality assurance and has been in business for 128 years holding school contracts for over 60 years.

Said Mr Fletcher: “We check our school vehicles every day and strive to exceed what is officially required by the authorities. Most coach operators use older vehicles on the daily school run but that is not an excuse for ever compromising on safety.

“We are fortunate in that we have our own workshops and a team of highly trained engineers and mechanics, who all understand the importance of ensuring our vehicles are maintained to the highest standards”, he said.

Bakers Dolphin uses the latest telematics technology to constantly check on their coaches and have on-board and external CCTV on all coaches to ensure safety.

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