Transporting young people safely

Youth work organisations should give particular consideration to road transport safety. Travelling in various means of transport is likely to be one of the higher risk activities involved in the delivery of youth work services.  This guidance focuses upon private hire and self-drive road transport and not other methods such as rail, air or ferry. Safety should always be considered when planning transport but other factors will also need consideration such as convenience, cost, health benefits (i.e. walking or cycling) and environmental impact (i.e. use of public transport). All national and local regulations must be adhered to at all times.

Journey planning and risk assessment

Irrespective of any transport operator’s own risk assessment that may be provided as part of the organisational pre-booking checks, youth work organisations should conduct their own risk assessment and plan the journey in a similar way to other activities.

Factors to take into account when planning a road journey include:

  • The number of driving hours required for the journey and total length of the driver’s day (including non-driving hours). This is particularly important if workers employed to supervise young people are also required to drive.
    • EU regulations state that drivers must not drive more than:
      • 9 hours in a day – this can be extended to 10 hours twice a week
      • 56 hours in a week
      • 90 hours in any 2 consecutive weeks
  • Sufficient breaks and rest for the driver
    • EU regulations provide stipulations for breaks and rest which, amongst others, includes:
      • a break or breaks totalling at least 45 minutes after no more than 4 hours 30 minutes driving
  • The capacity of the driver to maintain concentration – whether more than one driver is needed to avoid driver fatigue and the extent to which the passengers will need additional supervision
  • The type of journey – local/long distance/overnight
  • Foreseeable traffic conditions
  • Contingency funds and arrangements in case of breakdown/emergency
  • Communications arrangements between the travelling party and head office/support, between each vehicle within the travelling party if applicable, and to raise the alarm in an emergency
  • Insurance cover
  • Weather and driving conditions
  • Journey time and distance from support (e.g. breakdown, emergency services and medical facilities)
  • Comfort stops and access to toilets and refreshments
  • Group supervision
  • The need for appropriate seat belts (Note: seatbelts are not always fitted as standard in some countries)
  • Additional needs of young people
  • First aid provision – keeping the group first aid kit with workers and not in luggage compartments
  • Personal medication – ensuring individuals keep this on their person and not in luggage compartments

Team lists, group medical information and emergency plans  – keeping these with staff members and not in luggage compartments

Group supervision whilst travelling

When planning a journey, youth work organisations should give consideration to the supervision requirements for the full duration of the journey. Planning should give thought to contingencies in the event of breakdown, delay or cancellation and workers should ensure that briefings inform all young people of pertinent emergency information including exits, first aid access and meeting points.

When planning a journey, the following considerations should be taken into account: 

  • Young people should be made aware of safety requirements and expected standards of behaviour throughout the journey, including whilst travelling and at waiting points or rest stops
  • Where applicable, briefings should include basic safety rules for road crossings and where possible pedestrian crossings, traffic lights, bridges or subways should be used
  • Head counts should be carried out at regular intervals including whenever the group is getting off or onto transport
  • Wearing identifying clothing whilst travelling may aid supervision by making young people more easily identifiable
  • Where possible, more than one worker should be present in each vehicle and arrangements should be in place to ensure that the driver of any vehicle does not need to supervise young people at the same time
  • Seat belts should be fastened
  • For any mode of transport, thought should be given to the positioning of workers to support supervision and proximity to emergency exits – double-decker vehicles may require at least one worker on each deck
  • When travelling by coach, sufficient stops should be included to allow for comfort breaks and to adhere to any stipulations for drivers to take a break
  • In the event of an accident or breakdown, direct supervision should be maintained and the police should be contacted if the vehicle is in danger of being hit while broken down. Usually it is safer to disembark the vehicle and wait elsewhere but a dynamic risk assessment should be carried out to decide whether it is safer to keep the group on board the vehicle – if staying on board the vehicle, it is recommended that rear seats be vacated and the passengers moved forward towards the front (unless the vehicle is facing oncoming traffic, in which case the opposite would apply)
  • If the party travels in more than one vehicle then consideration should be given to the distribution of workers and communication between them, ensuring that all workers have access to pertinent emergency information
  • If travelling on a ferry with an open deck, consideration should be given to how access to the deck is managed for young people, including positioning of workers, expectations of behaviour and numbers of young people on deck at any one time

Driving & youth work organisation responsibilities

The responsibilities on youth work organisations and their workers will vary depending upon the type of vehicle, who provides the vehicle and who drives:

Travelling using a third party provider

When hiring vehicles with a driver, such as coaches, youth work organisations have a responsibility to ensure providers meet the needs of the programme and group of young people, and that safety standards are upheld. Youth work organisations should assess provider standards in advance and also support or train workers to be able to monitor dynamic factors during the journey.

As part of the risk assessment process, youth work organisations should seek evidence of operator safety standards and procedures, such as:

  • Any external accreditation or audit of standards such as DVSA Earned Recognition or Coachmarque. Further information is provided in the Accreditation Schemes resource.
  • Insurance, including vehicle, public liability and employer’s liability cover
  • Driver licensing and whether they will carry a valid Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) card
  • Driver DBS checks, recruitment procedures and training standards
  • Health & safety policies and risk assessments which should include travel with youth groups
  • Emergency procedures and support/back up in the event of a breakdown
  • Vehicle standards including:
    • Age & condition
    • Safety equipment provided including first aid and fire extinguishers
    • Safety checks in line with government guidance

Youth work organisations may refer to the example Transport Provider Checklist document for further questions and checks to carry out when engaging with new transport providers. However, it should be noted that this checklist is an example template only and will need to be adapted or amended to match specific providers, scenarios and organisational or group needs.

Checklists such as these, and any information gathered and sourced from a provider should be reviewed by a competent person, who is able to judge and interpret the information provided, ask follow up questions and apply appropriate controls as applicable, and ultimately make sound decisions.

When assessing new road transport providers, youth work organisations should satisfy themselves that the provider can meet the needs of the group, including basic welfare needs and any specific needs such as secure positions for wheelchairs. The government website should be used to check that the provider has a valid Public Service Vehicle Licence.

Travelling using hired or organisation owned self-drive transport

If the youth work organisation provide their own vehicle(s) or hires a vehicle which is driven by workers, then the organisation is responsible for ensuring that the vehicle is safe, the driver is competent, and that both vehicle and driver meet all relevant legal requirements. This includes all regulations applicable to the class of vehicle being used, and ensuring appropriate insurances are in place.

Youth work organisations should assess self-drive hire providers and seek evidence of standards as described above for other third party transport providers.

Where transport is being provided for ‘hire or reward’ a PSV (Public Service Vehicle) operator license is likely to be required. Youth work organisations offering transport services on a ‘not-for-profit’ basis can apply for a permit under Section 19 or Section 22 of the Transport Act 1985 which allow the holder to operate transport services without the need for a full public service vehicle operator’s (PSV ‘O’) licence.

Young people making their own way to venues

Where a vehicle is privately owned, for example by a worker, a parent or young person, the youth work organisation’s responsibilities will depend upon its role in the arrangements, and who is driving.

For many local UK youth work activities it may be appropriate for parents/carers to provide transport to/from venues or for young people to make their own way. In this case youth work organisations do not have specific responsibility to safeguard those journeys. However, organisations should ensure that young people and parents/carers are aware of arrangements and where applicable have given consent for young people to travel independently. Youth work organisations should consider what information they may require from young people or parents/carers about arrangements made in order to confidently allow young people to depart a venue.

Youth work organisations should avoid becoming involved in private arrangements between parents/carers to provide transport for each other’s young people. If the youth work organisation becomes involved in these arrangements, they will assume a responsibility to ensure the arrangements are acceptable (i.e. vehicles are roadworthy and drivers acceptable) which is likely to be very difficult to do.

Travelling on public transport

If and when utilising public transport including buses, trains, trams and Metro/ Underground to travel to or from programmes, youth work organisations should pay particular attention to considerations for group supervision (see section above).

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