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:
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:
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:
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.
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).
Image credit: Andy Smith (Selwyns Manchester)
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.
Image credit: Sue Nicholls (DM at Manchester)
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.
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.
Image credit: Andy Smith (Selwyns Manchester)
Mobile phones, Bluetooth headsets, smartwatches and portable audio/visual systems
National Express’s minimum policy on the use of these devices is as follows:
Satellite navigation devices
If, for any reason, you use a satellite navigation device (built-in or portable):
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.
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.
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):
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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
The relatively smaller size and profile of pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists can make them difficult for drivers of larger vehicles to see.
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.
All accidents or incidents to be reported to NCC as soon as possible.
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.
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.
If there is a fire onboard:
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:
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.
Reporting suspicious behaviour
Report any suspicious behaviour - it may save lives.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. We really welcome all your thoughts and suggestions.
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.
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:
Never idle your engine...
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.
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