Tips for safe bus transport

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Perhaps one of the safest modes of transportation for school children is school bus. Parents entrust that their children will be safe in buses. Hence, school bus safety is something which we cannot and should not ignore.

School buses are one of the most popular and safest means of transportation for school children. But, accidents happen and school authorities need to be very careful to ensure a smooth and safe drive for their school children. Early this year, a school bus accident in Uttar Pradesh killed 12 school children, after which a set of new guidelines for school buses were issued on the directions of Human Resource Development Minister Prakash Javadekar.

CBSE guidelines for school buses

Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) released a circular on February 23, 2017 on ‘Safety of school children in the school buses,’ which every school must comply with or will be disaffiliated. The board also stated that the head of the school and management would be held responsible if the new guidelines are not followed.

According to the circular, all schools have to depute guards on school buses and fit the vehicles with closed circuit television cameras (CCTVs), GPS systems, sirens and grilles on windows. “The windows of the bus should be fitted with horizontal grills with mesh wire. The school buses should be fitted with speed governors with max speed limit of 40 km/h. GPS and CCTV arrangement should be made compulsorily in each school bus and is in working condition at all the time,” reads the circular.
Additionally, such school buses need to have one “well-trained lady attendant” and, if possible, a parent overseeing the driver and conductor. School buses also need to be fitted with alarm bell and siren and the vehicles cannot have curtains or films on the windows.

The circular also states that a driver who has been fined more than twice in a year for any kind of offence cannot be employed by school authorities. A driver who has been fined even once for over speeding, rash driving cannot be hired too. “School bus drivers are restricted from having interaction with the students and bus staff beyond a limit,” it states further.
Schools also have to provide one mobile phone inside the bus which can be used during an emergency.

Children school bus safety rules

Sometimes, accidents occur due to carelessness of children, which can be avoided if children and parents know bus safety rules. Here are a few safety rules which should be handed over to all students/parents:

Getting on the bus safely:

  • Always be at the bus stop 5 minutes before its arrival time to avoid mishaps.
  • Never run towards the bus. Wait for bus to stop.
  • Wait in a queue to get on board. Never push other child to get inside.
  • Let the younger children board the bus first.
  • Always stay away from rear wheels of the bus.

Riding the bus safely

  • Find a seat and sit properly, facing forward.
  • Place your bag under your seat or on your lap. Do not keep anything in the aisle.
  • Do not take your head out to peep outside. Also, keep your hands and arms inside.
  • Do not throw anything inside or outside the bus.
  • Do not shout/fight in the bus as the driver will not be able to concentrate on the road.
  • Follow the bus driver/attendant’s instructions carefully.

Getting down the bus safely

  • Keep sitting until the bus stops completely.
  • Do not push; get down one after the other.
  • Before getting down, keep your eyes on the road to check on passing vehicles.
  • After getting down the bus, step aside. Do not stand near the bus as driver might not be able to see you.
  • In case you drop your belongings near the bus, do not pick it up. Instead, ask help from an adult.
  • Parents should wait for their children at the same side of the street the bus stop.
  • If you still need to cross the street, especially while crossing in front of the bus, take 10 big steps and then cross the street. Just see if you can see the driver. This way, driver will be able to see you.

Maintain quality of buses and drivers

If the school has its own fleet of buses, they are better adept to keep quality checks. But, if they have hired bus contractors, then they should ensure that the buses are of comparable quality and drivers are qualified and know traffic rules and safety procedures thoroughly. The drivers should be medically fit. Here are a few safety tips for drivers as well:

  • Drivers must drive at a designated speed only and take the designated routes.
  • Drivers should not use mobile phones while driving.
  • They should not interact with students or bus staff beyond a limit.
  • They must wait for the children to get up or down the bus.
  • Whenever they back the bus, they must ensure that there are no children walking or bicycling on the way.
  • When they reach the school zone, they should be more careful as there might be children. They should slow down and drive very carefully.

GPS tracking for a safer drive…

GPS or Geo Positioning System is a safety measure to ensure better safety of children. It can determine location, time, speed, trip distance, distance to destination, etc. It helps in more ways than we can think:

  • Parents can track where their child is, thus eliminating uncertainty. Parents can be assured that their children will not get lost as they can track them through RFID tags.
  • GPS calculates the exact position and recalculates the route automatically.
  • If a student misses his stop or boards a wrong bus, parents of the child and the concerned authority in the school, receive the notification.
  • During emergency situations, drivers can use GPS software to find the nearest police station, hospital, garage, etc.
  • When the bus is on the road, it is under constant surveillance of the school, thus the concerned authorities know the speed of the bus and how it is being managed.
  • A parent gets notified when the bus is about to reach their designated bus stop.
  • Alerts are sent to parents and concerned authorities for any updated information, such as student medical issues or any change in school bus routes and travel restrictions.

Mock evacuation drills

Mock evacuation drills should be conducted for all school children who use school buses so that they know where emergency exits are and how to use them.

Other safety measures

  • Every bus should have a teacher and a helper on board, who should be the first and last people to board and deboard the bus.
  • Whenever the bus stops at a bus stop, the helper should get down first and then let the children get down. Once all the children get down, then only they should board the bus again.
  • There should be a first-aid kit on the bus and the teacher/helper should know how to give first aid.
  • Buses should not be over-crowded. The number of passengers in the bus should not be more than the seating capacity.
  • The doors of the buses should be closed while it is moving.
  • Buses should be parked inside the schools while boarding and deboarding.
  • Encourage students to conduct road safety programmes to create awareness in public.