This is the reason your child doesn’t reach school safely

The students were still shrieking in the school bus when the traffic police caught hold of the driver. He was completely drunk. He hit a few vehicles and rammed into a divider before bringing the bus to a complete halt. This happened in Yelahanka, Bangalore a few days ago.

Luckily, the students were unhurt.

 

This is the picture of the DPS bus driver who was caught drunk driving earlier in the month. 

A few days later, driver of the school bus from the prestigious Delhi Public School was sozzled out of his mind. He was caught ferrying over 20 students early in the morning before the bus met with an accident.

These are not a few isolated incidents, they occur with chilling regularity. The truth is bus safety is a topic that schools rarely want to talk about. They usually have a ‘transport in charge’ whose job it is to ensure that the drivers arrive on time. The drivers are paid anywhere between Rs. 20,000 to 30,000 per month, but remain unsupervised most of the time.

Parent Speak:

“I have a language problem with these drivers. They are usually unkempt and gruff…. I am not comfortable talking to them. If you ask them why they are late, you won’t get a straight answer. And if you have an emergency the transport coordinator will have his phone switched off!” says Sangeeta Lakshman. Her daughters go to Delhi Public School in Bangalore.

“I used to work in a school. I know that transport is a problem in every school. Drivers run away or are lying drunk somewhere. The transport in-charge has a tough time dealing with these crooks. Safety is a basic concern, I know,” says Rathi from Kolkata.

“My daughter goes to Ryan International School. It is a very reputed school, still, the bus my daughter goes it is neither painted yellow nor is it checked properly. It is a private bus and I think it is totally unsafe for my child” says Mona Bhushan, mother of two, who has recently shifted to New Delhi.

For more on rules and regulations and school bus designs read here.

If you are admitting your child in a school, here are 5 things you dare not forget to ask the school:

1.Is the school bus GPS enabled? How can we track it?

This is extremely important from the safety stand point for obvious reasons. Also it is great to track the bus route when it is raining/too sunny and you don’t want to stand at the bus stop waiting endlessly. Schools usually have an app that can be downloaded that clearly shows you the bus route your child travels by. 

2.Do you have a policy regarding the hiring of drunk drivers?

Drunk driving is becoming a menace in cities. Be upfront when asking your school what its stand is regarding this. Ideally, they should have a zero tolerance policy. Is the driver’s background verified?  Do they ensure he/she has no drinking problem and is trustworthy? Your child’s safety could rely on these questions- so ask them.

3.How many staff members is it mandatory to have on the bus?

Usually, two teachers and two helpers (usually women) are recommended for large buses. However, Some schools provide no teachers and just one helper. Now, that is a recipe for disaster! With several kids in differing age groups, it is hard for any person to maintain a semblance of discipline. Insist on at least three people on the bus- two helpers and one teacher who can escalate matters if they get out of hand.

4.Are the pick-up and drop points perfectly identified? 

Often the school bus will stand ten meters away from the scheduled stop. Typically the transport in charge will wave it off saying, ‘its ok madam’. Don’t bow down to his pressure. Insist that the bus stops exactly at the point identified on the route. This will save you hardships later on.

5.Who ensures that the students get on and off the bus safely?

Check if the helper on the bus has experience handling such a large number of students. This helper is responsible for your child getting off the bus safely and the bus starting a full 30 seconds after your child is away from the bus. Ensure these helpers and their backgrounds are thoroughly checked.

To know how you can help your child avoid school bus mishaps read here.

 

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