Is Your Child Safe in the School Bus?
While a safe and dependable school bus service is what parents of every school-going child wish for, they should also know how to ensure their child remains safe in the school bus.
By Arun Sharma
Delhi’s school buses, vans have scant regard for safety norms — The Hindustan Times (20 Jan 2017)
Danger signs: How school buses in the capital are violating safety guidelines — The Indian Express (18 Sep 2017)
Six kids, driver killed as DPS school bus collides with truck in Indore — The Times of India (5 Jan 2018)
School bus service is a boon for parents who don’t have the time or resource to drop their child at school. However, reading headlines like those mentioned above can put fear into the heart of parents whose children commute to school in a school bus.
So, what should parents do then?
While it is not possible to put an end to accidents, it is certainly possible to decrease the number of mishaps caused by a lack of knowledge of rules or not following them.
The Supreme Court of India had in 1997 issued an extensive list of requirements to be adhered to by any vehicle transporting children to and from school. Taking a cue from this, the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) also issued guidelines for CBSE-affiliated schools through a circular dated 23 Feb 2017.
While the regulations issued by the Supreme Court and the CBSE are quite extensive, we present a short safety checklist of what you should look for in your child’s school bus.
School bus safety checklist
- The bus should have the name of the school written on both sides.
- The bus should have a first-aid kit.
- The windows of the bus should have horizontal grilles to prevent children from leaning out.
- The windows should provide a clear view of the inside of the bus, and shouldn’t be covered with curtains, sun films or other such material.
- The bus should have a global positioning system (GPS) in working condition, as well as CCTV cameras on board.
- In addition to the driver, there should also be a conductor to help the children board and alight from the vehicle, as well as an attendant from the school.
- There should be space inside the bus to keep the schoolbags.
- The doors of the bus should have a reliable locking mechanism installed.
- The bus should have a fire extinguisher.
The above-mentioned checklist can help you determine if the vehicle used for transporting children to and from school meets the safety parameters. However, you should also teach your child how to stay safe while she is waiting to catch the bus or travelling in it. Here are a few tips to share with your child and make sure that she follows it without fail.
Tips for the child
- Wait for the bus at a safe spot, preferably on the sidewalk/footpath. Do not stand on the road.
- Wait for the bus to come to a complete stop before moving towards the door to board or get down.
- Stay seated during the bus ride.
- Do not put head or arms out of the bus window while travelling.
- Stay out of the danger zone, or the blind spot, around the bus. This is an area of 10 feet on all the sides of the bus. The bus driver may not be able to see a child if he is inside the blind spot, which may lead to an accident.
- Follow the instructions given by the driver and/or the conductor during the bus ride.
- What your child should do if you are late in arriving to pick her up after she has been dropped by the school bus.
While there are rules in place to ensure safety, and new ones will keep getting added, why do mishaps still happen? One of the main reasons is the laxity in implementing and following the laws. Also, what is required is an awareness of safety measures and a vigilant observation of the same. However, as a parent, here is what you should do.
What parents should do
- Raise issues related to school transport safety, if any, in the parent–teacher meet.
- Keep an eye out for violations committed by those in charge of the bus — for example, not stopping the bus at the designated spot or over-speeding. Report all violations to relevant authorities immediately.
- Ask your child pointed questions to know if he is being cared for well during the ride — for example, “Are you made to come to the door before the bus stops?” or “Does anyone in the bus touch you in an unsafe manner?”
- Keep the contact number of the conductor/driver handy to get in touch with him during an emergency.
- Get in touch with the Regional Transport Authority or Police if the school authorities fail to take action on your complaints, or you notice something unusual about the school bus.
Here is an extract from the Direction of the Supreme Court of India for School Bus
- "School Bus" must be written on the back and the front of the bus.
- If it is a hired bus, "On School Duty" should be clearly indicated.
- The bus must have a first-aid-box.
- The windows of the bus must be fitted with horizontal grills.
- There must be a fire extinguisher in the bus.
- The school name and telephone no. must be written on the bus.
- The doors of the bus should be fitted with reliable locks.
- To keep school bags safely, there should be a space fitted under the seats.
- There must be an attendant from the school in the bus.
- School cabs should be fitted with speed governors with a maximum speed limit of 40 kph.
- The body of the school cab shall be highway yellow colour with a horizontal strip in green colour of 150 mm width in the middle all around the vehicle and the words ‘SCHOOL CAB’ must be prominently displayed on all four sides of the vehicle.
- If the age of school children is below 12 years, the number of children carried shall not exceed 1½ times the permitted seating capacity.
- Children above 12 years shall be treated as one person.
- The driver of a school cab must have a valid licence to drive LMV-Transport Vehicles for a period of at least four years and compulsorily wear a light blue shirt, light blue trousers and black shoes. His name ID be displayed on the shirt.
- There must be enough space provided to keep school bags inside the vehicle and the bags should not be hung outside the vehicle or placed on roof carriers.
- The bus driver must carry a complete list of the children being ferried in the school cab, indicating the name, class, residential address, blood group and the points of stoppage, route plan, etc.
- In case of kindergarten, if an authorized person recognised mutually by the school and parents, does not come to pick the child from the halting points and such, the child shall be taken back to the school and their parents should be called.
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