No child's play

Safety on wheels

No child's play

The recent incident where the driver of a school bus was caught driving under the influence of alcohol has highlighted the need for school managements to cross-check the credentials of drivers before hiring them.

Most parents who send their children by school bus say they can only hope that the management has thoroughly checked the background of the school bus drivers.

       Namrata Hiremath, a mother of two who has been sending her children by the school van for the last four years says, “The school has developed a system where the parent can track the movement of the school bus and know where the child is located. The parents can also take the contact number of the van driver. The parents are also given a copy of the details of the driver.”

Nadashree Sharadaprasad, a homemaker, has been sending her children by a private van to the school for the last couple of years. “I thought that it is safer to send my children by a private van because parents have the freedom to develop a personal rapport with the driver. We know the driver and his background very well which gives us the confidence to send our children with him,” she says.

Sujatha Karthik, another parent who sends her children by the school van, says “The school does a thorough background check of the driver before he is hired. They also hold regular meetings with drivers to verify their driving licence and whether it is up to date. This will indirectly instill a sense of responsibility and accountability in the driver.”

Most schools have a separate transport department to monitor the movement of school vans and keep a watch on the drivers to make sure that they conduct themselves well when on duty.

Sabitha Ramamurthy, principal, CMR National Public School, says every driver of the school bus is hired only after a thorough background check and after police verification.

“The drivers are issued identity cards and have to wear their uniform during work hours. We have a separate transport manager who keeps a tab on all the van drivers throughout the day to make sure that they report to duty on time and comply by the rules of the school,” she says.

The  Regional Transport Office (RTO) authorities say they are doing everything to ensure school buses follow the rules and private vehicles (carrying school children) don’t violate norms.

A senior officer with the RTO, who didn’t wish to be named, says, “If school van drivers are caught driving under the influence of alcohol, their driving licences will be seized and is likely to be cancelled. We are in contact with the management of schools to ensure that they hire van drivers only after a police verification process.”

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