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25Mar2015

Are Our School Buses Safe Enough?

Are Our School Buses Safe Enough?

The statistics do not say so!

One of the recent school bus accidents that took place in India was that of a train colliding with a school bus in Telangana in July 2014. Twenty five students were killed in the mishap. While some blame the railway authorities for the unmanned railway crossing, over speeding and negligence by the bus driver cannot be ignored.

This is just one of the very large numbers of school bus accidents happening in the country every year. It is a fact that about 41% of all children who die in transport accidents every year are from India. It has also been reported that more than 70 children were dead and many more injured as a result of school bus accidents since January 2013.

School bus accidents and mishaps happen around the world. For instance, it was just few months ago that a four year old girl was suffocated to death in her school van in UAE. Unfortunately, the child had fallen asleep in the bus and the driver, without knowing that, had locked the van from outside. This was not the first time it happened. There were about 5 similar cases reported in UAE in the past 10 years.

Children are the future of our country and they don’t deserve to die at a tender age. Only if the school authorities could be a little more careful!

What has been done so far?

With a rise in accidents involving school buses, there have been rules made on school bus management by the concerned authorities in India to assure safety and secure ride for the students and for parents to let out a sigh of relief:

Installation of CCTV in school premises are made compulsory. The footage of the CCTV must be kept for 60 days and must be handed over to the police in case of any investigation purpose. 500 school bus cameras have been installed by the Bangalore Metropolitan Corporation. GPS has been declared compulsory by Central Board of Secondary Education.

School bus drivers are restricted to have interaction with students beyond a limit in school bus and socializing with students is also limited.

Entering school grounds are restricted to authorized people. Any person suspicious entering the school premises will be reported without fail.

ID cards are issued to parents, which must be bought while picking up their children. If they cannot come for picking up their children, an SMS must be send authorizing another person to pick them up.

In the early part of 2015, CBSE had taken an appreciable step to strengthen the security system and to ensure the safety of students. CBSE has made it mandatory for all school buses to have GPS installed in them. This helps the school authorities to track the location of the school bus and to take immediate actions in case of unscheduled bus stops. Previously, CBSE had made speed governors mandatory in school buses to prevent over speeding but only few schools obliged.

Schools should ensure that all rules and regulations in order to provide a safe journey for students are strictly followed. Use of School Bus Tracking Software can help parents and school authorities to keep an eye on school buses and about the performance of the driver can ensure school bus safety and avoid such incidents from repeating.

What can be done?

School bus incidents always end with a condolence note by the authorities and the announcement of compensation, nothing further. Most of the school bus related incidents happen due to the negligence of the school bus drivers or school authorities. Therefore, turning a blind eye towards the avoidable incidents is only going to affect the reputation of the school and hence it’s necessary to start thinking of solutions to prevent school bus incidents.

a) Make sure that parents accompany younger students to the bus stop

b) Ensure that the students board and alight from the bus only after the bus comes to a complete stop

c) Assign an employee in every bus to monitor the students and to ensure that no student had been left behind in the bus once it reaches the destination

d) Verify previous records of school bus drivers before hiring them

e) Device systems such as CCTV cameras and GPS systems should be installed in school buses to monitor the performance of school bus drivers and to ensure the safety of students

f) Train students to remain seated in the school bus throughout the journey to school or on the way back home

g) Conduct seminars or classes to school bus staff at least once every year to instil safe driving practices in them

 

Are these enough or do you think more measures can be taken? Please share your comments with us.

 

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