Many minibus drivers in the UK, particularly those working with community organisations or as minibus drivers for schools, are now required to have and maintain a MiDAS qualification. The training courses that must be taken for minibus drivers to achieve this are provided by the Minibus Driver Awareness Scheme (MiDAS). MiDAS training courses are supplementary, designed to assess the competence of drivers and enhance their driving and safety standards, including a focus on accessibility for disabled passengers. They are separate from driving entitlements provided by a minibus driving licence. To help you to prepare for MiDAS training, here at Brightside Minibus Insurance – brokered by One Insurance Solution – we have put together this guide on what to expect from the MiDAS minibus training programme. This includes what you will be tested on to pass, the costs involved, how long the course takes and the benefits of taking it, such as potentially lower minibus insurance premiums.
How does MiDAS work?
MiDAS operates in a cascading structure. What this means is that the Community Transport Association (CTA), who operate and promote the scheme, appoints various Training Agents (TAs) in a UK region. These TAs then provide internal training for a larger number of Driver Assessor Trainers (DATs), who in turn will then train and assess individual minibus drivers.
Minibus drivers undertaking the scheme are usually doing so within an organisation. This may be a small charity with one minibus, or a large local authority operating minibus fleets – any organisations can put forward their minibus drivers to work towards a MiDAS qualification.
What's in the MiDAS Tests?
What you can expect to find in your MiDAS tests depends on which module of MiDAS minibus training you are taking.
If you have been submitted for MiDAS Module 1, passing this module will gain you a Standard MiDAS Certificate. This module is comprised of both a theory assessment and a practical assessment. These can both be completed together over the course of a single day.
If you have been submitted for MiDAS Module 2, passing this module will gain you an ‘Accessible’ MiDAS Certificate. This module is comprised of a theory and practical driving assessment, just like Module 1. However, this module includes an additional focus on minibus accessibility for passengers who require wheelchairs, including training on how to secure wheelchairs and operate passenger lifts. Due to the extra training content, this module is expected to be completed over two days.
In order to take either MiDAS module, you must hold a full UK driving licence and have at least two years of driving experience.
MiDAS Theory Test
Your MiDAS training will typically begin with a classroom session. This concludes with the MiDAS theory test comprised of 20 questions to confirm your knowledge of the topics covered in the session. You need a score of 16/20 to pass the MiDAS theory test.
A typical classroom theory session includes training in:
- Safe and economical minibus driving
- Driver licensing
- Minibus manoeuvring, such as reversing and defensive driving techniques
- Legal responsibilities of minibus drivers, including duty of care
- Planning, vehicle checks and passenger safety
- Passenger comfort best practice
- Minibus health and safety when working
- Minibus fire, evacuation and emergency procedures
MiDAS Practical Test
Once the 20-question theory test has been completed, the practical half of the test begins. The practical section starts with a driving skills training session lasting roughly 30 minutes before a practical assessed drive, which typically lasts between 60 and 90 minutes.
All-in-all, the breakdown of the MiDAS training’s practical assessed drive includes:
- A basic eyesight test
- The DAT providing a demonstration drive
- An opportunity to familiarise yourself with the vehicle before the assessment begins
- An opportunity to ask questions to improve competence and confidence before driving
- The final assessment of your practical minibus driving skills
Upon passing both the theory and practical tests, you will be rewarded with your Standard MiDAS training certificate.
MiDAS 'Accessible' Test
If you are undertaking Module 2 of MiDAS training, you will complete the above with extra training on:
- Working with disabled people
- Safe use of passenger lifts and ramps
- Passenger assistance best practice
- Safety for passengers requiring wheelchairs in minibuses
The practical side of the course will then also include:
- A demonstration and supervised assessed practice assisting wheelchair users
- Supervised practice using equipment like lifts and passenger restraints
- A short written test
Upon passing both the theory and practical tests and the ‘Accessible’ training, you will be rewarded with your ‘Accessible’ MiDAS training certificate.
MiDAS Refresher Training
To maintain your MiDAS qualification after passing, MiDAS minibus drivers must attend a short refresher course every 4 years. MiDAS refresher training will usually include:
- Opportunities to meet and share experiences with other MiDAS drivers
- Offering feedback on the scheme to influence future refresher training and MiDAS’s development
- Training on changes made to legislation and good practice standards since your initial training
- Recaps on key MiDAS training topics
You will then pass MiDAS refresher training upon successful completion of both refreshed theory and practical assessments. You will receive a new MiDAS certificate which will then be valid for another 4 years before the process begins again.
MiDAS Training Cost
The cost of MiDAS training will usually be footed by the organisation that submitted you for it. If you are a minibus fleet owner submitting drivers from your organisation for training, this cost will vary depending on your organisation’s location within the UK, as different MiDAS trainers can charge different prices, and on the number of minibus drivers submitted for training.
Benefits of MiDAS Training
The Department of Education and Department for Transport both highly recommend that all minibus drivers complete a MiDAS minibus driving training course. There are many benefits for doing so for both you as a minibus driver and your passengers, particularly:
- Increased safety and comfort for passengers
- Improved driver confidence
- Reduced driver stress
- Potentially lower vehicle running costs thanks to more efficient driving
- Potentially lower minibus insurance premiums – insurers may factor in your MiDAS qualification – which focuses heavily on safety – when assessing how likely you would be to make a claim. The MiDAS qualification suggests that you are committed to safety and responsibility, which could reduce your overall insurance premium
Now you know why it may be to your benefit to undertake MiDAS minibus training, as well as what to expect from it, see how much you could save with a MiDAS certification by getting a tailored minibus insurance quote with us through our Minibus Insurance page today.