National Express

Driving standards

1. Driving Out Harm and Target Zero

Driving Out Harm

National Express Group is one of the most successful public transport companies in the world. We have award-winning businesses in many countries that deliver safe, customer-focused services on almost a billion journeys a year.

Our Driving Out Harm programme demonstrates that safety is our number one priority. It means that all drivers put the safety of their colleagues, customers and members of the public first by making sure they are following driving and vehicle standards at all times.

Every driver, whether coach or bus, must follow the Golden Rules of safety, which are:

  • Put the safety of customers first.
  • Be fit for work (no alcohol or drugs and fully rested).
  • Check your vehicle and only drive if it’s safe.
  • Drive safely and drive defensively.
  • Report all accidents, injuries and near misses.


Target Zero

The Driving Our Harm programme has been running since 2011 and is a great success. We’re really proud of it but there’s always more that can be done where safety is concerned. So we launched the Target Zero in 2018 with the aim of reducing the number of responsible fatalities down to zero.

You can play your part in helping achieve Target Zero:

  • Never use your mobile phone or electronic devices while driving.
  • Never drive over the speed limit or speed where unsafe to do so.
  • Drive safely and drive defensively.

2. Professional driver

People expect our drivers to perform to a high standard. As a professional driver, you should think about the safety and wellbeing of our customers and other users at all times.

Remember, a professional driver:

  • Always drives defensively and understands how their decisions affect safety.
  • Always puts the safety of themselves and others above all else.
  • Is always fit for work – no alcohol or drugs and fully rested.
  • Reports all accidents, injuries and near misses in a timely way.
  • Checks that their workplace is safe.
  • Follows all professional driving requirements around tachograph rules and driving hours.
  • Follows professional driving standards and the Highway Code.
  • Makes steady but safe progress in all traffic conditions without becoming a hazard to other road users.
  • Plans journeys, identifies risk and takes appropriate pre-planned actions to avoid or reduce those risks.
  • Prides themselves on their skills and ability which are generally higher than other road users.
  • Avoids putting themselves in situations of danger or additional stress and is courteous to other road users, reducing potential conflict situations.
  • Drives safely and defensively in urban areas with due consideration to pedestrians.
  • Professionally represents the National Express brand at all times.


Tachograph compliance

UK law dictates that all professional drivers with a PCV licence must complete a full record of their daily working shift and understand the logging on and logging off procedures so the correct information is recorded.

As a professional driver, it is your responsibility to manage your hours and tacho compliance.

  • Always carry and correctly use your digital tachograph card. If it’s lost/damaged/stolen, you must report this to the DVLA and your manager immediately. You must apply for a replacement within seven days and have evidence that you have done this. You can only continue to drive without a driver card for 15 days with all driving hours being completed manually until a replacement card arrives.
  • Never drive without inserting your tacho card in the tachograph (this includes walk-around checks).
  • Always understand what your driving hours are and always take your legal rest breaks. It’s your responsibility to make sure you are driving legally.
  • You must download your tacho card every 28 days - this is a legal requirement.
  • You must make handwritten entries if the tachograph is defective or when the information on the chart/driver’s card does not accurately reflect shift times or activities.
  • Take time to understand the tachograph pictograms and what they mean.


3. Before you drive

By law, drivers must have a current valid driving licence for the category of vehicle they are driving and hold a current CPC (shown through the Driver Qualification Card - DQC).

  • Make sure your driving licence has all the correct details, especially if you have sent it away to the authorities for any change or renewal. If something doesn’t look right when you get it back, report it.
  • Make sure your DQC is in date and carry it with you at all times.
  • Be fit for work. This includes getting enough rest and sleep the day before you drive.
  • Reset the vehicle to be sure you have completed the full start-up process, including giving an Alcolock sample.
  • Insert your digital tacho card into the correct slot.
  • Make sure the seats are clear of your bags and personal belongings.

Image credit: Andy Smith (Selwyns Manchester)

4. Pre-drive checks

As the driver, it’s your legal responsibility to make sure the vehicle you are using is in a roadworthy condition. Ask your depot for advice before you start if you are in any doubt about the suitability of a vehicle for service.


  • Complete the pre-drive/use checks (including the wheelchair lift checks) before taking control of a vehicle; this also applies to driver changes.
  • Follow your company/depot procedures for completing these checks, including reporting any defects.
  • Adjust the position of the driver’s seat and mirrors to suit you and make any other adjustments before you begin your journey.
  • Report any vehicle faults that develop during the course of a journey (use the local defect reporting systems).
  • Ensure there is a complete first aid kit for emergency use on the vehicle (PCV regulations). If any items are missing from the first aid kit replace them before you leave the depot.
  • Ensure you are meeting the legal requirement that a fire extinguisher is in place and in working order. That means it should be in date and, where a gauge is fitted, the reading should be in the ‘green’ section.
  • Make sure you know where the fire extinguishers, emergency window hammers and emergency doors are on the coach and how to use them. Emergency exits must not be blocked under any circumstances.
  • Check your wheelchair lift is functioning correctly and that the removable seat is in a suitable condition. This is particularly important as, by law, customers who are travelling in a wheelchair don’t need to pre-book so you may need to operate the lift and remove seats.
  • Conduct a walk through the coach once all customers are on board, to check that everyone is seated safely and that you don’t have a customer overload.


5. Route planning

  • Familiarise yourself with the route risk assessment before you drive a route for the first time. Ask your manager for the route risk assessment if you have not seen one.
  • Show extra care if you are diverted for any reason.
  • Consider the size and weight of the vehicle and obey any restrictions, especially if you are driving a tri-axle vehicle (which is longer than twin-axle coaches and has an added risk of greater rear swing).
  • Pay particular attention to obstacles such as low bridges or overhanging trees, even when the diversion route is pre-defined by the authorities.
  • Make sure that, if you have to plan your own diversion, any extra time will not take your driving hours over the legal limit.
  • Also check that, if you have to plan your own diversion, the route is suitable. Bear in mind the time of day, low bridges, overhanging trees, narrow roads, roads with tight turns and areas that may be heavily congested with vehicles or pedestrians.
  • Be extra vigilant when driving through or past busy pedestrian areas or schools.
  • Talk to NCC if you aren’t sure about any potential diversions.
  • Make your operator aware of any potential high-risk sections of the route or changes to the normal route.
  • Never try to make up for lost time.

Image credit: Sue Nicholls (DM at Manchester)


6. Announcements

Some announcements are required by law and others are there to provide the best customer safety and service. Whatever the type of announcement, it’s an opportunity to make the right impression on your customers. National Express provides a standard announcement CD which is to be used as directed by your operator.

  • Make announcements in an upbeat and positive tone. Speak clearly, not too quickly, and steer clear of using jargon. You are not reading the news headlines, so don’t be afraid to add some personality. Remember that even though you know the announcements like the back of your hand, for many of our customers it will be the first time they have heard them.
  • Make all announcements set out in the National Express Handbook Section 2; these include:
    • Informing customers of the need to wear seatbelts
    • Information about upcoming stops
    • Information regarding service number, final destination and principal stops
  • Make sure that all announcements are made before the vehicle departs. Don’t make announcements when the vehicle is moving (except in exceptional circumstances).
  • Remain in full control of the vehicle at all times when you are making your announcements.
  • Never use hand-held microphones whilst moving.


7. Defensive driving

For a safe, smooth and fuel-efficient journey for you and your customers, follow the five principles of defensive driving:

1. Set your sights high

Steer and focus your attention high so you can see the road well ahead and not just a few feet in front of you - try to look 15 seconds ahead of you. Keeping danger in the road in mind will help avoid rear-end collisions and tell other drivers behind you to slow down by seeing, evaluating and acting upon distance information.


2. See it all

Scan your mirrors frequently and be aware of what is going on around your vehicle. Keep a suitable following distance to the road ahead to improve your reaction time and level of safety.


3. Look all around

Stay alert on the road and search the scene constantly. Avoid a fixed stare or focusing on an object for too long. Stay alert for changes in the highway and potentially dangerous conditions. In urban areas be aware of pedestrians, cyclists and scooters.


4. Leave an escape route

Make sure you have room between you and other vehicles and never let yourself get boxed in. Keep a safe distance of at least 4-6 seconds between vehicles and anticipate the choices of others on the road.


5. Be seen and be safe

Position your vehicle so others can see you. Signal your intentions to others and, where possible, try to make eye contact with other drivers.

In addition:

  • Some motorways have special chevron markings in the centre of the traffic lanes. These are spaced 40 metres apart; keeping two marks between you and the vehicle in front will provide a safe driving distance.

  • In slow-moving (less than 20mph/32kph) stationary or stop-start traffic leave a gap so you can see the rear tyres and a small amount of road surface between you and the vehicle in front.
  • Increase the distances between vehicles when visibility is reduced or when there are road surface conditions that may affect your stopping distance. Don’t use fog lamps unless road conditions dictate that you can do so.
  • Don’t try to beat the timetable – you’re likely to get stressed and irritable.
  • Never use your vehicle to “bully” or intimidate other road users.

Image credit: Andy Smith (Selwyns Manchester)

8. Mobile phones, Bluetooth headsets & more

Mobile phones, Bluetooth headsets, smartwatches and portable audio/visual systems


National Express’s minimum policy on the use of these devices is as follows:

  • Using hand-held mobile phones is strictly prohibited at all times whilst driving and could lead to suspension or removal from the National Express network. The only exception to this is a genuine emergency where a driver needs to call 999 or 112 and it would be unsafe to stop the vehicle to do so.
  • Personal mobile phones must not be used when driving and should be kept in your bag.
  • Wearing Bluetooth or wired mobile phone earpieces is prohibited.
  • Wearing headphones of any description is also prohibited while driving.
  • Drivers are not allowed to use personal radios, MP3 players or similar devices while driving.
  • Reading or sending text messages or using other communications devices is prohibited at all times while you’re in control of a vehicle.
  • Reading or sending messages or using a smartwatch as a phone is not permitted.
  • Manipulating a personal device configured as a SatNav while driving is not allowed.
  • Use of company-supplied ‘hands-free’ mobile phones in coaches must be restricted to operational reasons only. You must remain in full control of the vehicle at all times. Where incoming calls are received, only answer if it’s safe to do so. Keep conversations as brief as possible and remember that customers will be able to hear those conversations.
  • Mobile phones and/or other personal electronic devices must not be charged on the vehicle, while in transit or by using onboard dashboard power inputs.


Satellite navigation devices

If, for any reason, you use a satellite navigation device (built-in or portable):

  • Make sure it’s fitted where it won’t affect your view of the road and other road users.
  • Make any inputs, destination or any other adjustments before you drive.
  • Put any portable devices away when you leave the vehicle.
  • Set it up correctly for the vehicle dimensions of the coach if you are using a personal device.
  • Always consult NCC if you are not sure of a route.


9. Wearing seatbelts

  • Wear the seatbelt where one is fitted, it is a legal requirement. Driving without a seatbelt is a company disciplinary offence.
  • Make sure that anyone (including co-drivers) occupying a courier seat wears a seat belt while the vehicle is in motion.
  • Make sure (if applicable) your line manager has a copy of any seat belt-wearing exemption certificate and that a copy is put on your HR personal file.
  • Carry the original seat belt exemption certificate (if applicable) with you at all times while driving or travelling on National Express vehicles.
  • During your announcement, advise customers that they must wear their seatbelts. Please encourage customers to wear their seatbelt as far as reasonably practicable.
  • While it is the customer’s responsibility to wear the seatbelt provided, please make every effort to ensure that those customers seated in the front rows (near side and off side) wear their seatbelt. In an accident, they are at increased risk if they are unbelted.
  • Be sure that wheelchair users have a seat belt extension provided. Never use National Express issued seat belt extensions for yourself; they are for wheelchair users only.
  • Courier seats should never be used for carrying customers.
  • Don’t allow customers to stand or allow more customers onboard the vehicle than is permitted.


10. Speed (driving too fast)

A speed limit is the absolute legal maximum for the road you are using; it is not a target that always needs to be achieved. Equally, there is also no excuse for going over the speed limit. It’s against the law and could result in personal prosecution and/or disciplinary action for you.

  • Know what the speed limit is for the class of road and/or category of vehicle you are driving.
  • Remember that coaches need more time to stop and handle differently to cars; take this into account when driving.
  • Reduce your speed, especially when:
    • The road layout or conditions present hazards, such as bends and roundabouts
    • Driving in areas of heavy pedestrian activity or when other vulnerable road users (eg. cyclists or motorcyclists) are in the area.
    • You are near schools or colleges, especially at start and finish times.
    • Weather conditions are poor, visibility is reduced or there is heavy surface water.
    • Driving at night (stay within your headlight range).
  • Report any prosecutions or fixed penalties you receive for speed-related offences to your manager, even if they took place away from work.


11. Coach stations and other stops

Coach stations and stops come in different sizes, layouts and methods of operation. Local conditions of use and safety rules at a coach station will be given to an operator and/or be posted locally. Follow these rules and conditions at all times. Be considerate when you are at stations and stops in residential areas and be aware of any vehicle noise after 23:00.


Drivers must follow any instructions or signals given by the operator of a bus or coach station or National Express staff.

  • Set the parking brake and select neutral at all stops. Switch off the engine if you leave the driving seat, even for a short period. This includes when loading or unloading luggage or checking customer tickets at the vehicle entry door.
  • Make sure you are familiar with the site rules for all stations before your journey and observe site speed limits.
  • Follow local procedures for loading and unloading customers.
  • Wear hi-visibility clothing when out of your vehicle (ie at coach stations and the roadside) and make sure your name badge is visible on your hi-viz when loading customers.
  • Follow the rules regarding reversing and use a banksman if required/provided.
  • Keep engine idling to an absolute minimum. Most National Express stations are now idling-free zones.
  • Observe ‘no smoking’ rules.
  • When arriving at a stop, position the vehicle to allow customers safe exit and entry from/to the vehicle. Never double park your vehicle.
  • Always reduce the step height by deploying any ‘kneeling’ devices that are provided before opening the door(s).
  • Allow customers to get on or get off the vehicle at authorised stops only (never at unauthorised stops such as traffic lights or while stopped in traffic).
  • Consider how you can reduce noise and environmental impact at stops with local residents.
  • Allow customers enough time to sit down before you move off. All customers should have a seat; no-one is allowed to stand if the coach is full. Customers cannot use crew seats.
  • Give elderly customers, customers with a sight impairment and customers with mobility difficulties extra consideration. They are more vulnerable to slips, trips and falls.
  • Drive away from stops smoothly.
  • Report any incidents or accidents to station staff or NCC.
  • Greet customers in a polite and friendly manner and make them aware of the route you’re operating.


12. Drugs and alcohol

Any amount of alcohol and/or drugs in your system will affect your driving ability. So all drivers must follow the National Express Drugs and Alcohol policy. We reserve the right to test drivers in accordance with these policies at any time.



Illicit or recreational drugs

The Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 states that possession of the following controlled substances are ‘illegal drugs’ irrelevant of classification; the only difference is the penalty on conviction (this list is not exhaustive but shows some of the main illegal drugs):

  • Ecstasy, LSD, heroin, cocaine, crack, crystal meth, magic mushrooms, amphetamines (if prepared for injection), amphetamines, cannabis, methylphenidate (Ritalin), pholcodine tranquilisers, some painkillers, gamma hydroxybutyrate (GHB) and ketamine.

Just because a substance is not listed above does not mean it’s not illegal or that it is safe to take; for example, chewing khat leaf can badly affect a driver’s judgement.


Psychoactive substances

No employee is allowed to use or be in possession of psychoactive substances (commonly known as ‘legal highs’) whilst on duty, on National Express premises or while operating company vehicles. Supply, offer to supply and possession of or dealing in psychoactive substances while on duty will be regarded as gross misconduct and, without exception, will be reported to the police.

In the event of psychoactive substances being used or possessed, an individual will be suspended from duty and referred to the disciplinary procedure, which may result in dismissal on grounds of gross misconduct.


Medicinal or ‘over the counter’ substances

You don’t have to speak to a pharmacist when buying self-help remedies (such as Night Nurse or Benadryl). That means you become responsible for making sure that the treatment you buy is appropriate, is taken correctly and in accordance with the instructions on the packaging.

  • Check that any medicine that you are taking will NOT affect your ability to drive.
  • Check the potential effects of prescribed medications with the dispensing pharmacist if one is available.
  • Stick to the dosage rate and frequency.



Alcohol consumption in any quantity can badly affect driving performance. Above certain limits, it can result in a prosecution which would include an automatic ban from driving. The most sensible approach is not to drink for at least 8 hours before driving but please be aware that it can take up to 24 hours for alcohol to leave the body completely. Drinking alcohol at any time while you are on duty (even with a meal) is strictly prohibited.

  • The National Express limit (0.08mg of alcohol per 100/ltr of breath) is lower than the legal limit (0.35mg of alcohol per 100/ltr of breath). This is for your own, our customers and other road users’ safety.
  • Alcohol needs time to leave the body’s system (approximately one hour per unit of alcohol).
  • Remember that alcohol units consumed vary because of wine, beer and spirit strength; one drink does not necessarily mean one unit.
  • Most of our vehicles are fitted with Alcolock devices that will prevent a vehicle being started unless a breath test recording of less than 0.08mg is provided.
  • The Alcolock device not only prevents the vehicle from being started but also sends a ‘fail’ text message to NCC.


13. Alcolock procedures

National Express has fitted vehicles with a system called ‘Alcolock’. It is a vehicle immobiliser fitted to a standard breathalyser handset. The vehicle won’t start unless a clear breath sample is blown by the driver. The unit is set up to produce a ‘fail’ result if a sample of breath exceeds 0.08mg per 100/ltr breath.

When switching between drivers, the first driver should always switch off the engine and press the reset button on the dashboard. This then allows the second driver to provide a breath sample to start the vehicle. Each new driver has to get a “pass” with the breathalyser unit.

Most of our coaches are fitted with a connection between the Alcolock device and the digital tachograph unit. This is called alco-tacho. If the coach you are operating has this, the system will require a breath sample at every driver changeover and will beep to indicate a sample is needed.


What items can cause the unit to fail?

The unit will only be activated by alcohol. However, some items such as mouthwash or cleaning fluids may contain alcohol and trigger a reading. Therefore, no mouthwash, food or drink containing alcohol should be used or consumed one hour before using the unit. For any invalid sample, fail or error, please contact the NCC.


Alcolock system instructions:

  • Press the dashboard reset button to clear the system ready for your sample.
  • Switch on the vehicle ignition; the breathalyser unit will start up automatically and begin a self-test. You don’t need to press any buttons.
  • The screen will say ‘Please wait warming up - Fit mouthpiece - Blow for 3 seconds - Start vehicle’.
  • Fit your own mouthpiece for each sample. To fit the mouthpiece you simply line up the hole on the front of the unit and push the mouthpiece into place firmly.
  • You are now ready to take a sample.
  • Take a deep breath and blow slowly and consistently into the mouthpiece for approximately five seconds; after the click, blow for another second, then decrease your pressure slowly (don’t just stop blowing – decrease it).
  • The screen should read ‘Pass’. That means the person who took the sample has a breath alcohol level of less than 0.08mg/ltr. If it shows ‘Fail’ the person who took the sample has a breath alcohol level of more than 0.08mg/ltr. If you failed to breathe successfully into the mouthpiece it will say ‘Try again’.
  • If you’ve been unable to provide a sample after three attempts, remove the mouthpiece and shake to remove any moisture; better still, use a new mouthpiece if you have one.
  • Wait for approximately two minutes (maybe longer if alcohol is present) and the handset will go back to ‘Fit mouthpiece’. Refit your mouthpiece and start from Step 6.
  • Once the vehicle is running, the breathalyser unit will switch off automatically after five minutes or you can switch it off manually by holding down the button.
  • When you stop driving the vehicle, you must switch off the engine and press the reset button on the dashboard to reset the immobiliser ready for the next driver.
  • The immobiliser will reactivate when the vehicle has not been used for more than 15 minutes and will need another breath sample to start the vehicle.
  • You can keep your mouthpiece clean by rinsing with soap and water, putting them in the dishwasher or using alcohol-free wipes. Don’t share mouthpieces with others and replace any damaged mouthpieces immediately.


  • Use mouthwash before using the unit (some mouthwashes or cleaning fluids contain alcohol and can trigger a reading).
  • Take any drinks or food with alcohol content one hour before using the unit.
  • Smoke or vape within 10 minutes of needing to provide a sample.
  • Eat or drink 10 minutes before using the unit.
  • Start the vehicle for another person. The unit must only be used by the person intending to drive the vehicle. Any such instances must be reported to your line manager.


Mouthpiece cleaning and maintenance 

To reduce the use of plastics, we recommend you retain and reuse your mouthpiece. You can keep your mouthpiece clean by rinsing it with soap and water, putting it in the dishwasher or using alcohol-free wipes. Please try not to use new tubes carelessly. Also, please note that you are required to use a fresh mouthpiece when requested by the NCC. Do not share mouthpieces with others and replace any damaged mouthpieces immediately.

14. Reversing vehicles

A large number of reported accidents involve reversing of vehicles. We realise that you can’t avoid reversing altogether, particularly at coach stations. However, if you plan ahead, you can reduce the number of reversing manoeuvres and so reduce the risk.

  • Carry out any reversing manoeuvres at the slowest possible speed.
  • Switch on any reversing alarms and make sure reversing cameras are fully operational.
  • Having engaged reverse gear, pause for a few seconds to allow others to react to the reversing lights and/or reversing alarm on your vehicle before moving.
  • With the exception of between 23:30 and 07:00 hours, sound the road horn momentarily before moving to additionally warn others of your intention to reverse.
  • Remember the responsibility for the safe execution of the manoeuvre rests with the driver even if a banksman is there to help you.
  • If a signaller is present, verbally tell them your intended actions and be sure that they understand what you intend to do. If there is any doubt, STOP and CHECK.
  • Follow the instructions of any banksman; however, if you are unsure of any instruction, you must STOP and CHECK.
  • If, for any reason, you lose sight of the banksman, STOP your vehicle.
  • If you have any doubts at any point whilst reversing, STOP and CHECK.


15. Eating, drinking, smoking & vaping

  • Eating, smoking and vaping whilst driving, or indeed any other activity that may affect a driver’s ability to control a vehicle, is against the law and is therefore strictly prohibited.
  • Drivers are not permitted to smoke or vape in the vehicle at any time; remember that this includes any time when the vehicle is stationary with or without customers and/or during layover periods.
  • Coach stations are legally designated places of work; smoking and vaping is only permitted, if at all, in officially designated areas.
  • Drinking is prohibited whilst driving unless it is from an appropriate sports bottle (where the removal of a cap is not required), used at an appropriate time and stored in a safe location.


16. Fatigue, tiredness & medical conditions

It is your responsibility to make sure that you are rested and medically fit to drive. Any medical conditions that may affect your ability to drive safely or legally must be reported to your manager.


How you can prevent fatigue

  • SLEEP - most adults need, on average, 7-9 hours of sleep in a 24-hour period. Sleep allows your brain and your body to rest so that you are alert and refreshed the next day.
  • EXERCISE - exercise also plays an important part in helping you get good sleep, especially if you do it regularly and not too close to your bedtime.
  • DIET - A good diet and regular mealtimes also help you sleep. Some things to avoid near bedtime are:
    • Eating a heavy meal or over-eating.
    • Coffee.
    • Alcohol.
    • Fatty foods.
    • Drinking too much fluid.
  • Be aware that lack of sleep can catch up with you later in the day.
  • If you are on night duties, sleeping in the afternoon is recommended and when you do decide to go to sleep, make sure that the room is as dark as possible. Never stay awake between night duties if you should be resting.
  • Caffeinated drinks or opening the window do not solve the problem of feeling tired.
  • If you feel ill or tired whilst driving for National Express stop in a safe place and get in touch with NCC for advice and/or guidance.


17. Vulnerable road users (pedestrians, cyclists & motorcyclists)

The relatively smaller size and profile of pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists can make them difficult for drivers of larger vehicles to see.

  • Motorcyclists can approach quickly and often seem to appear from nowhere. Some motorcyclists will undertake and/or filter through traffic.
  • Cyclists can also undertake or weave through stationary or slow-moving traffic. They may enter from side roads without looking and some less responsible cyclists ignore traffic lights, road markings and other signals.
  • When driving at night and/or in poor weather conditions, pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists become particularly difficult to see, especially if they are wearing dark clothing.



  • Give cyclists and motorcyclists a wide berth when overtaking them. Never turn left without checking and double-checking your mirrors.
  • When stationary or at traffic lights, leave sufficient space between you and any cyclists and/or motorcyclists. Don’t enter the cyclist waiting zone when stationary at traffic lights (see picture).
  • Check both ways before going through junctions, especially at traffic light controlled junctions - look for any cyclists or motorcyclists who may have ignored or missed the lights.
  • Check your mirrors frequently (every 5-7 seconds) and look carefully for cyclists and/or motorcyclists.
  • In heavy traffic, look out for pedestrians crossing between vehicles and for cyclists and motorcyclists weaving through the traffic.
  • Check the blind spots before moving away from a stationary position.
  • Be prepared for pedestrians attempting to cross the road in densely populated areas and at known popular crossing points regardless of vehicles having the right of way.


Emergency service vehicles

Emergency service vehicles can appear suddenly and from directions that you’re not expecting. Always try and give them room to pass or manoeuvre around you.


18. Accident and incident reporting

All accidents or incidents to be reported to NCC as soon as possible.

  • Your report must include any injury to customers or drivers, assaults, vehicle incidents or collisions, and any safety or security issues.
  • If you know you need the emergency services always call them first.
  • Accidents and incidents involving coach operations must be reported straight away to NCC who will give you guidance and support. Follow any reasonable instructions given.
  • Incidents involving drivers driving on company business or for any other reason must be reported in line with the local policy.
  • On-board text feedback stickers now cover a wider range of customer incidents and issues such as safety issues and driving standards.
  • Police must be notified using the 101 number if you are involved in a driving incident involving the following animals: dogs, horses, cattle (eg cows, pigs, goats, sheep, donkeys and mules). You have to report this as quickly as you can whether the animal is killed or not.


Antisocial behaviour

Antisocial behaviour on-board the vehicle must also be reported to NCC (and the police, if required). If a customer assault is reported during the journey then the driver must stop at the next safe place and ring for police and NCC assistance.


Customer assaults

If an assault is either seen or alleged by a customer during the journey, you must call the police at the next safe opportunity. You must also report the incident to the NCC and do your best to keep each party separated and away from each other while making sure you and your other customers are safe.

  • Report any accidents or incidents immediately or, at the very least, as soon as practically possible to NCC.
  • Report any accident or incident to NCC before contacting your depot.
  • Call the emergency services yourself (if they are required). Don’t assume someone else has called them
  • Remain calm; the customers will look to you as a trained professional driver for guidance and advice.
  • Remember that the safety of you and your customers is the first priority; don’t put yourself at risk.
  • As soon as possible after the event make a record (written or verbal) of everything that you can remember before, during and after the event.


19. Fire evacuation procedure

If there is a fire onboard:

  1. Bring the vehicle to a controlled stop in the safest convenient location. Turn on the hazard warning lights and switch off the ignition (use the emergency stop button if necessary). If forced to stop on the hard shoulder, stop as far to the left as possible (UK and ROI), with your wheels turned in a leftward direction.
  2. Don’t attempt to tackle the fire unless it is essential in order to reach an exit. Never attempt to open the engine bay door for risk of flashback.
  3. Help customers to evacuate, looking out for persons with limited mobility to offer assistance to them.
  4. Use the front exit whenever possible as the evacuation route, use the rear exit as a second alternative or additional escape route so long as it does not cause people to evacuate into a traffic route or other significant hazard. Use the emergency evacuation windows or sky-light as a third option if the previous are not available, safe to use or sufficient.
  5. Evacuate able-bodied customers first and customers of limited mobility immediately after. Don’t use the wheelchair lift but ask other customers to assist you in helping wheelchair users off the coach.
  6. Move customers to a safe distance from the vehicle and well back from the road where possible. If you can, get customers behind the Armco barrier beside the road.
  7. Alert emergency services and NCC.
  8. Don’t attempt to remove luggage from lockers. This is because opening locker doors can increase ventilation and make the fire more intense. Items may also be shot out of the vehicle at speed or the fire might suddenly intensify while someone is close to the vehicle.
  9. The main aim here is the safety of people (employees, partner operator employees, customers and passers-by). That safety must not be compromised by attempts to protect property.


20. Driver and vehicle security

Always think about personal safety when dealing with unattended items. If an item is found unattended at a coach station or other location, use the HOT principles:

  • Hidden – Is the item hidden from sight?
    • Is it hidden from view or in a place where accidental discovery is unlikely, such as behind a vending machine? Innocent items are not usually hidden deliberately.
    • Explosive devices are not normally left in the open.
  • Obvious – Is the item obviously suspicious?
    • Does it look like a bomb? Does it have wiring; circuitry; a power supply or something that may be explosive attached to it? Has it been found after a suspicious event?
  • Typical – Is the item typical?
    • Is it something you might expect to find in its given location? For example, lost property is often found in locations where people gather or wait before moving to a new location.


Think about terrorism

Terrorists will plan for an attack. So an apparently innocent visitor or customer may be testing our security procedures to see how effective they are, such as leaving a bag behind to test our reactions.

We must deal with all instances in a speedy and professional manner.

  • Look for people showing an interest in isolated or out of sight areas or people asking questions about staff work routines.
  • Be aware of anyone paying particular interest in CCTV locations.
  • Are they dressed inappropriately for the environment (ie. big coats on hot days, hoods up or wearing sunglasses indoors)?


Reporting suspicious behaviour

Report any suspicious behaviour - it may save lives.

  • Who did you see, what did they look like, what were they wearing?
  • What have you seen, what has happened, what was it that made you suspicious?
  • Where did the situation happen and where were you?
  • When did it happen and at what time?


Vehicle security

  • Be alert and report any suspicious activity.
  • Always keep the keys to your vehicle secure and report any loss or misplaced keys to your manager immediately. Do not leave keys in the ignition if the vehicle is unattended.
  • Make sure that you check your vehicle for any left items at the beginning and end of journeys. If your vehicle is going to be left unattended, where possible lock all doors and luggage lockers. If this isn’t possible you will need to check the vehicle on your return, making sure you search all areas including the toilets and under seats.
  • Keep luggage lockers closed whilst not loading.
  • Make sure that all luggage placed in the hold belongs to a genuine customer travelling on the vehicle.


Clandestines/Illegal migrants on vehicles

A ‘clandestine’ is a person attempting to travel where not officially permitted, normally by hiding on a vehicle.

People wishing to travel through or from an international border or to travel nationally undetected may attempt to hide within any available compartments/lockers on the vehicle or within internal areas of the engine bay or vehicle chassis.

  • Always check your vehicle before departing stations, stops or after breaks at service stations.
  • Keep lockable compartments locked when not in use. This includes luggage lockers, battery lockers, ski lockers and drivers’ compartments.
  • Where safe and possible, check wheel arches and engine bays.
  • If you identify a clandestine, contact the police immediately.
  • Remember that a clandestine may feel threatened on being found so avoid any attempt to physically remove them yourself.


Vulnerable persons, people trafficking and exploitation

We are committed to preventing the use of our services by organised crime, including the trafficking and exploitation of adults and children.

  • Always report any suspicious behaviour or activity by any customers to station staff or NCC.
  • Remain alert for vulnerable adults or children travelling on their own who may seem nervous or scared. This may include being left at a station or stop by gangs to travel on their own.
  • If a customer or child reports they are under the control of a gang, tell the police and NCC immediately.
  • If you identify items that concern you, contact the police and NCC immediately.


21. Driver Sanctions Matrix

To make sure we are delivering consistent safety standards and driver behaviours, we use a ‘Sanctions Matrix’. This shows the course of action National Express will take should a driver be seen to breach our policies or take on dangerous/illegal activities. These sanctions apply whilst operating a National Express vehicle or while operating anywhere on the National Express network.

If a driver breaches any of the sanctions, a range of outcomes will apply, depending on the seriousness or nature of the breach. In some instances, some of the outcomes will result in the removal of the authority to operate on our network. We would notify the operator employing the driver. Operators have the right to appeal the removal of drivers and all appeals to return to the network must be provided to National Express in writing by the operator.

We work with operators and drivers to keep existing drivers wherever possible. However, due to the nature of some of the issues contained in the matrix, decisions to remove a driver are made for the purposes of safety, brand reputation and legality. A copy of the Sanctions Matrix is available to all operations managers at each operator.


22. DriveCam

The DriveCam is a recording system that creates short video clips in the event of an operational or safety incident occurring. These video clips help with investigations of accidents and major incidents, by providing clear evidence and can also be used to identify commendations for drivers. Video clips also form part of our driver training programme to help improve the overall standard of driving as well as protect drivers against false accident claims.

Should you trigger an event, the video clip is analysed and sent to your operations manager who will review the details with you as soon as possible afterwards.

  • Always check the DriveCam unit is working - is the green light on?
  • Report any issues with the unit to your operator.
  • Never cover either side of the DriveCam unit or attempt to move or adjust the DriveCam unit or touch or adjust the lens of the unit.

You can also manually upload a clip. Manual uploads should be used for events which are out of the ordinary and may not have triggered the unit by itself; for example, an accident in front of the vehicle which didn’t involve the coach itself.

Clips can be uploaded by continually pressing either of the blue buttons on the base of the unit until the red light on the front of the unit (inward-facing) starts to flash. Once the red light starts to flash, you can stop pressing the blue button. Please use the manual upload button responsibly.


23. Driver app

The National Express Driver app idea is currently being discussed at the Business level and the aim is to make it available to all drivers on the Network sometime in 2020. It will be a central source of information where drivers will receive updates on important National Express policies and communications and can request further information on relevant items.

The app will also provide drivers with access to their driving performance data and allow them to see how they compare to other drivers in key areas such as speed and driving style.

Future developments are being planned and will include the ability to record walk-around checks, training videos and more.

This is an exciting project and if you have any ideas or suggestions for possible items to include please contact We really welcome all your thoughts and suggestions.


24. Community

The National Express Community Value commits us to being active in the communities we serve, helping to bring about economic, social and environmental value. As an environmentally conscious organisation, we work hard to reduce our impact on the environment.


Engine idling

Diesel combustion engines affect the quality of the air we breathe. Health organisations have found air pollution contributes to 40,000 early deaths each year in the UK. A simple way to help improve air quality is to not idle your engine if you can help it. Always switch your engine off:

  • When your vehicle is parked.
  • When taking onboard breaks.
  • Whilst loading and unloading customers.
  • At bus and coach stations.


Never idle your engine...

  • At London Victoria coach station.
  • At Heathrow coach station.
  • At any manned coach station ie. Birmingham, Milton Keynes, Leeds, Manchester, Newcastle, Plymouth, Southampton and Cardiff.
  • These sites are all “mandatory” engine idling free zones.



  • Spillage of hazardous substances (such as oil, diesel, antifreeze, coolant and AdBlue etc) not only cause operational disruption but may cause personal injury from slip hazards, endanger other road users and pollution if not managed and contained.
  • Always report spillages to NCC or coach station staff.
  • Never attempt to drive a vehicle that has a leak of any kind.


Litter and waste management

Waste generated by our customers is legally classed as commercial waste (not litter). Companies are legally required to manage and dispose of commercial waste in a responsible manner. Therefore waste should be returned to the depot and not put in council litter bins or other companies’ waste bins.

All coach stations have confidential waste cabinets so drivers can use these. If, however, you don’t go into a station, you should take any paperwork back to the depot.

  • Dispose of waste from the vehicle in a suitable waste container, preferably back at your depot (and not in public litter bins, in laybys, at layover bays or coach parks etc).
  • Get permission from the owner of the waste container when disposing of waste out on the road.


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