When safety comes first

When safety comes first

Speed issues

When safety comes first

It’s been a fortnight since schools in the city reopened and the sight of overloaded buses overspeeding to get children to school on time has been bothering most parents. A Supreme Court order issued in 2011 made it mandatory for all educational institutions to have their vehicles fitted with speed governors. Except for some of the big schools, most smaller ones don’t seem to have abided by the rule.

Most parents, who send their children by private vans, also voice the same concern and hope that the transport authorities will take note of this issue and come down on the offenders to ensure the safety of their children. 

School buses are not seen speeding within the city, thanks to the heavy traffic, but they are often seen zipping on Hebbala Main Road, Tumakuru Road, Hosur Road, Bellary Main Road and Old Madras Road where the roads are relatively free, say some parents. Vrinda Neeshath, the parent of a teenager, says she found that the school bus in her son’s previous school exceeded the speed limit but the problem was solved after she changed the school. “Earlier, my son used to complain about the bus exceeding the speed to reach the school on time. Yes, safety is of utmost importance but more than that, the thrill of speed gets into the child's system and he or she thinks that it is the right way forward,” says Vrinda.
 The choice of school is important in ensuring that the child is safe from all perspectives, believes Jason Cherian, a popular designer and a parent of 2. “My daughter travels by the school bus but it’s fine if the children are a few minutes late due to traffic jams. No child is taken to task or penalised for coming late. This culture is also followed by the drivers who follow a definite speed and don’t rush the children,” says Cherian. 

He says that he seen some school buses rush past a railway crossing to prevent themselves from getting stuck. “I am sure the school drivers too have targets to meet and more than one trip to make but overspeeding is no solution,” reasons Jason. 

The educational institutions that have a large fleet of buses have taken the order seriously and got their vehicles fitted with speed governors. For instance, Ekya Schools and CMR Group of Institutions have a large fleet of buses and most of them are fitted with speed governors. Tristha Ramamurthy, director, Ekya Schools, explains, “We have developed a software that gives both the parents and the school management the chance to track the school buses and indirectly gives them an update on the speed as well. Parents can also optimise the routing, keep a track on the real-time movement of the bus and check speed.” But there are a few schools like Clarence High School who have consciously stayed away from owning their own fleet of buses. “Most of the children who come to our school live in the vicinity or just 5 to 6 kilometres away from it, so we’ve never felt the requirement to have school buses,” says Jerry George, principal of Clarence High School. He adds, “The children have made their own arrangements to be dropped and picked up from school. We have only one school bus that ferries children to the school playground located near Cox Town and back to school.” 

The authorities with the Transport Department confirm that all commercial vehicles will compulsorily have to be fixed with a speed governor. Rame Gowda, Commissioner for Transport and Road Safety, says, “Last year, we caught and fined almost 750 school buses that violated the safety norms, including not having a speed governor. Now that the schools have reopened, we will launch our safety drive and any vehicle that is caught violating these norms will be seized and their permits will be cancelled.”

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