National Express

Driver Standards

What we require from you as our driver

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1. Professional drivers

All drivers are required to perform their duties in a professional manner giving full consideration to the safety and wellbeing of our customers at all times.

Professional Drivers:

  • Always drive defensively and understand how their decisions affect safety.
  • Always put the safety of themselves and others above all else.
  • Are always fit for work – no alcohol or drugs and fully rested.
  • Report all accidents, injuries and near misses.
  • Check that their workplace is safe.
  • Comply with all professional driving requirements around tachograph rules and driving hours.
  • Give full consideration to professional driving standards and the Highway Code.
  • Make steady but safe progress in all traffic conditions without becoming a hazard to other road users.
  • Plan their journey, identify risk, and take appropriate pre-planned actions to avoid or minimise those risks.
  • Pride themselves on their skills and ability which are generally higher than other road users.
  • Avoid putting themselves in situations of danger or additional stress and are courteous to other road users, reducing potential conflict situations.
  • Professionally represent the National Express brand at all times.

2. Before you drive

The law requires that Drivers are in possession of a current valid driving licence for the category of vehicle they are driving, and that all drivers hold a current CPC, evidenced through the Driver Qualification Card (DQC).

Always:

  • Ensure that your driving licence complies with the legal requirements.
  • Check your licence to ensure that the details are correct, especially if you have sent your licence away for any form of modification or renewal.
  • Ensure your Driver Qualification Card is in date and that you carry it at all times.
  • Carry and correctly use your Digital Tachograph card, if it is lost/damaged/stolen. Report it immediately.
  • Be fit for work, this includes getting enough rest and sleep.
  • Be courteous at all times and avoid conflict in all aspects of the job.
  • Reset the vehicle to ensure you have completed the full start up process, including giving an Alcolock sample.

Never:

  • Assume that a licence returned from the authorities is correct - check it and report any discrepancies.
  • Drive if you do not have a valid current licence.
  • Drive without your Digital Tachograph card inserted into the correct slot.
  • Drive while fatigued or in a condition that will affect your ability to drive safely.

4. Route planning

Drivers must ensure that they are familiar with the route to be taken and are aware of any hazards on that route. Please ensure consideration is given to the risks of pedestrians in densely populated areas.

Always:

  • Familiarise yourself with the route risk assessment before you drive a route for the first time.
  • Exercise additional caution if diverted for any reason.
  • Consider the size and weight of the vehicle and comply with any restrictions.
  • Pay particular attention to obstacles such as low bridges or overhanging trees even when the diversion route is pre-defined by the authorities.
  • If you are required to plan your own diversion ensure that any additional time will not contravene your legal driving hours.
  • If you are required to plan your own diversion ensure 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 either with vehicles or pedestrians.
  • Be extra vigilant when driving through or past busy pedestrian areas or schools.
  • If unsure on any potential diversions consult with NCC.
  • Make your operator aware of any perceived high risk sections of the route or changes to normal route.

Never:

  • Assume that a pre-defined diversion route is suitable for your vehicle.
  • Try to make up lost time.
  • Ignore persistent risks.

7. Mobile phones, Bluetooth headsets, smart watches and portable audio/ visual systems

The use of mobile phones whilst driving is illegal and increases the risk of a vehicle collision. Not paying attention to the road caused by concentrating on phone calls can also cause collisions.

National Express minimum policy

  • Using hand-held mobile phones is prohibited at all times whilst driving. The only exception to this is a genuine emergency where the Driver needs to call 999 or 112 and it would be unsafe to stop the vehicle to do so.
  • Personal mobile phones are not permitted to be used whilst driving and should be kept in the driver's bag.
  • Wearing ‘Bluetooth’ or wired mobile phone earpieces is prohibited and wearing these devices constitutes use of a mobile phone.
  • Wearing headphones of any description is also prohibited whilst driving.
  • Drivers are not permitted to use personal radios, mp3 players or similar devices whilst driving.
  • Reading or sending text messages or using other communications devices is prohibited at all times whilst in control of a vehicle.
  • Reading or sending messages or using a Smart Watch as a phone is not permitted and constitutes use of a mobile device.
  • Manipulating a personal device configured as a SatNav whilst driving is not permitted and constitutes use of an electronic device.
  • Use of Company-supplied ‘hands-free’ mobile phones in coaches must be restricted to operational reasons only. Drivers must remain in full control of the vehicle at all times.
  • Where incoming calls are received, drivers may only answer if it is safe to do so. Conversations must be kept as brief as possible with consideration that customers will be able to hear conversations.
  • Mobile phones and/or other 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:

Always:

  • Ensure it is fitted where it will not affect your view of the road and other road users.
  • Make any inputs, destination etc. before you drive.
  • Make any other adjustments before you drive.
  • Ensure that if it is a personal device, it is set up correctly for the vehicle dimensions of the Coach.
  • Always consult NCC if unsure of a route.

Never:

  • Attempt to start up or input data whilst driving, this would be deemed as use of a mobile device and is prohibited.
  • Try to make any adjustments to the device whilst driving.
  • Leave any portable device on display when you leave the vehicle.

9. Speed (driving too fast)

Remember, 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.
Speed limits may not always mean that it is safe to drive up to the permitted speed.

Always:

  • Remember, there is no excuse for exceeding the speed limit (e.g. to make up lost time or delays due to traffic). Speeding is against the law and could result in personal prosecution and/or disciplinary action for you.
  • Always take account of road, traffic and weather conditions when considering at what speed you should be driving.
  • Always 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; this must be taken into account whilst driving.
  • Reduce your speed, especially when:
    • The road layout or conditions present hazards, e.g. bends and roundabouts.
    • Driving in areas of heavy pedestrian activity, or when other vulnerable road users e.g. 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. All speeding offences, in any vehicle, must be reported, even if they took place away from work.

Never:

  • Exceed speed limits within depots or at Coach Stations. Speeding at these busy locations is dangerous and could cause death or serious injury. Speeding in these areas will be dealt with under the relevant disciplinary procedures.
  • Speed to make up time or to gain an advantage over other road users

11. Coach Stations & other stops

Coach Stations and stops vary considerably in size, layout and method of operation. Some locations are ‘drive-through’ and others may require vehicles to reverse off stand.

Also, some locations may have facilities to keep customers off the concourse until the vehicle is ready for loading and others may have more unrestricted access.

All Coach Stations have local conditions of use and safety rules, these will be notified directly to an operator and/or be posted locally. All Drivers must abide by these rules and conditions at all times. Please be considerate of locations in residential areas and vehicle noise after 23:00.

Drivers are required to comply with any instructions or signals given by the operator of a Bus or Coach Station or National Express staff.

Always:

  • Set the parking brake and select neutral at all stops, additionally switch off the engine if you leave the driving seat.
  • Make sure you are familiar with the site rules for all stations before your journey.
  • Observe site speed limits.
  • Follow local procedures for loading and unloading customers.
  • Wear hi-visibility clothing when out of your vehicle.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Consider how you can minimise noise and environmental impact at stops with local residents.
  • Allow customers sufficient time to sit down before you move off.
  • Give elderly customers, customers with sight impairment and customers with mobility difficulties extra consideration. These customers 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 ensuring customers are aware of the route you are operating.
  • Ensure your name badge is visible on your Hi-Vis when loading customers.

Never:

  • Double park your vehicle.
  • Leave the engine running whilst you are not behind the steering wheel, even for a short period. This includes while loading or unloading luggage or checking customer tickets at the vehicle entry door.
  • Set the parking brake and leave the gear selector set in any gear other than neutral.
  • Allow customers to get on or get off at unauthorised stops (e.g. traffic lights or whilst stopped in traffic). This practice is extremely dangerous.
  • Allow customers to stand.
  • Allow customers to use crew seats.

General note regarding wearing hi-vis vests

High visibility vests must always be worn when working within Coach Stations or at the roadside.

14. Eating, drinking, smoking and vaping

The law requires that our customers and other road users have the right to expect a professional Driver to be in full control of their vehicle at all times.

Eating, drinking, 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 of any company vehicles 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.

Always:

  • Dispose of unwanted food or drink packaging properly.
  • Remember that incorrectly disposed food and drink can lead to slips, trips and falls.
  • Only smoke or vape in designated areas.
  • Ensure that any smoking or vaping materials are extinguished and disposed of correctly and safely.

Never:

  • Eat, drink, smoke or vape at the wheel - it is illegal.
  • Smoke or vape anywhere other than an officially designated area if one is available.
  • Dispose of discarded smoking materials carelessly.
  • Drop any form of litter.

16. Vulnerable road users (pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists)

Pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists are extremely vulnerable road users, particularly in relation to large vehicles.

Their relatively smaller size and profile can make them difficult for drivers of larger vehicles to see.

Motorcyclists can approach quickly and can 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 of the less responsible cyclists ignore traffic lights, other signals and road markings.

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.

At all times - whatever the conditions:

Always:

  • Give cyclists and motorcyclists a wide berth when overtaking them.
  • Do not enter the cyclist waiting zone when stationary at traffic lights.
  • When stationary or at traffic lights, leave sufficient space between you and any cyclists and/or motorcyclists.
  • 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 five to seven 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.

Never:

  • Use your vehicle to crowd or intimidate cyclists, motorcyclists or pedestrians.
  • Turn left without checking and double checking your mirrors.
  • Assume pedestrians will move out of your way.

Emergency service vehicles

In addition to vulnerable road users remember that emergency service vehicles may appear suddenly and from directions that you are not expecting. Always try and give them room to pass or manoeuvre around you.

17. Accident and incident reporting

National Express Limited requires that all accidents or incidents are reported.

These reports must include injuries to customers, passenger or driver assaults, vehicle incidents or collisions, and any safety, or security of service issues.

If you know you require the emergency services always call them first.

Accidents and incidents involving Coach Operations must be reported straight away to the National Express Network Control Centre. Network Control will offer Drivers guidance and support, and Drivers must comply with 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.

Onboard text feedback stickers are being updated in 2019 to cover a wider range of passenger incidents and issues.

Antisocial Behaviour

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

Always:

  • Report any accidents or incidents immediately or at the very least as soon as practically possible.
  • Report any accident or incident to National Express Network Control prior to contacting your depot.
  • 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 passengers is the first priority - do not put yourself at risk.
  • As soon as possible after the event make a record (written or verbal) of everything that you can remember prior, during and after the event.

Never:

  • Assume that someone else will have called the emergency services (if they are required). Call the emergency services yourself - that way you know it’s done.
  • Put yourself or anyone else at greater risk.

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