Major Safety Drawbacks of School Bus Transportation & Their Solutions

School is a second home for school-going children- a safe place for them to grow. Going from home to their second home should ideally be completely safe.

School Bus transport is the most popular method of school travel as most parents are office going or cannot afford to personally drop off and pick up their children. The School Bus is also a place where parents and school authorities cannot watch over school children.

Or so it was before the internet dashed into our lives and transformed them completely. Today, we have ways and means to remove our blind spot and protect school children the way we want to.

Click here to know road safety tips for school going children

Once we have identified the problem areas and explored the depth of what has happened and what could happen, then we can use the tools at hand to neutralize them.

According to a study by Save Life Foundation and the National Crime Records Bureau, at least 43 children are killed in road accidents daily. Road accidents are six times more likely to kill children than any other crimes committed against them.

So far, parents and schools have had no choice but to hire a school bus fleet and depend on the fleet owner’s diligence for safety and hiring practices. Every day that two-way trip to school and back is an unknown quantity.

Let’s have a look at some of the greatest dangers posed by school buses:

School children being children are at an age where they’re only just understanding how to navigate the world around them. They’re boisterous and carefree so while parents and teachers drum the importance of road safety practices into them, we need to minimize risks. They could slip on the steps

Getting off and on buses

Entering and exiting the bus seems innocuous enough, doesn’t it? Yet, 24% of school bus injuries happen at the doorstep of a school bus. School-age is when children feel the most invincible. In their exuberance, they might jump off when the bus hasn’t quite stopped. Some bus drivers do not bother to halt at a bus stop. They only slow down until the child gets off the bus then speeds off. Queuing up to the side of the bus instead of in front of the doorway is rife with possibilities of a child slipping and getting an injury.

School Bus Accidents

School Bus accidents mostly happen when errant drivers of vehicles on the roads do not keep teen feet distance behind the school bus as required by the law or attempt to overtake school buses when their red lights are flashing. These are the most common reasons that cause crashes and accidents.  A speeding vehicle could crash into a child getting off the bus or crossing the road.

Click here to know How to maximize school transportation security?

Bus Performance and Driver behavior

Buses may not be in the best condition. Seats may be faulty leading to injury when the driver speeds, turns, or swerves suddenly, or applies the brakes too hard. The bus engine may be experiencing as yet unnoticed or glossed over by the driver. A breakdown of the bus en route can be disastrous.

Child Abuse

A serious concern is how vulnerable school children are to be manipulated by ill-meaning authority figures. The friendly seeming driver uncle might misbehave with a child and intimidate them into keeping quiet. The consequences could scar a child for life. Without proper measures and utmost vigilance, school children may also be kidnapping victims

External Conditions

Bad roads, slippery roads due to rains, and weak bridges are equal culprits of school bus incidents as the other problems mentioned above. These are mostly unpredictable and even the most careful and diligent driver may not be able to stop these accidents.

Here are the current rules put in place by the government for the safety of school children.

  • ‘School Bus’ must be written on the back and 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 Bus must be fitted with horizontal grills.
  • There must be a Fire Extinguisher in the Bus.
  • 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 on the Bus. School cabs should be outfitted with speed governors that restrict a maximum speed limit of 40 kph.
  • The body of the school cab shall be highway yellow color with a horizontal stripe in the green color of 150mm 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 license 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 should 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 the case of kindergarten, if an authorized person recognized 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.

These rules go a long way to protect school children but it’s not enough. We need more. We need some means to monitor every trip closely, identify any glitches on the bus, and react to threats in real-time.

As mentioned at the beginning of the article, getting more isn’t wishful thinking. Technology has advanced in leaps and bounds, thus making it possible to provide children with hi-tech protection that used to be the privilege of a few.

Right now, we’re in the age of the Internet of Things which is characterized by the amalgamation of ordinary devices with an internet connection. This allows vehicles to be monitored remotely in real-time. Real-time is a term used to describe the ‘live’ time of a certain event. It is the hallmark of the 4th industrial revolution that we currently thrive in.

The Internet of Things is our solution. With IoT, we can create automated fleet management apps that track school buses live, get real-time updates for each trip, and monitor drivers and their adherence to safety mandates. Any incidents of speeding, abrupt braking, sudden swerving, or attempting to deviate from the chosen route will be reported to transport admins immediately.

The app also identifies any anomalies in the performance of the vehicle and uses GPS satellites to scout the route ahead to identify any possible source of danger.

A simple but ‘smart’ school transport management app can save the lives of many children and give them the chance to explore all of life’s opportunities and fulfill their potential.

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