Road safety is finally becoming the mandate of the day across various government agencies, and while it may be a little late in the day to address this concern, when it comes to lives and safety on the road, we think that it’s never too late to mend our ways. As we speak, the Rajya Sabha is working towards a new amendment to Motor Vehicles Act of 1988, which should address a number of concerns, hopefully, resulting in safer roads. These are after all the road conditions which our youth and children use to travel to school and colleges every day in, unfortunately, if a consensus on the safe travel of school children is not reached things could get exponentially more serious.
As parents, many of us often neglect to examine the conditions under which most of our children travel to school. Pressures of the urban environs often result in us leaving the fate of our children to strangers, who operate the private buses that most school in metro cities contract for the transit of children between school and home. Last year, Express Drives did a story that focused on the bare essentials that should be mandated before private buses can be contracted by schools to transport children. Our story outlined the need for a fire extinguisher inside the bus, as well as horizontal bars on the windows and provision of a properly stocked first-aid box and place for storing school bags underneath the seats. Seatbelts on all seats and an attendant to tend to the safety of the children during their commute. Our story also called to action parents asking them to talk to their children about road safety and teach them why it is important to follow certain procedures while inside a moving vehicle.
Almost a year following our story, we are glad to report that the first steps towards creating a consensus through the SIAM initiated First School Connect Conclave titled Aavekshan, `Enabling safer future’, which focussed on educating schools on the use of GPS devices in school buses to ensure safety of school children as notified by Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE). This conclave brought the automobile industry, MoRTH, Gol, Delhi Traffic Police and various schools from Delhi NCR under one roof to discuss how child transport could be made safer.
The first order of business was ensuring that schools get access to GPS tracking devices that can be fitted to the buses while training the authorities in the schools to monitor and understand the information being relayed by the vehicles so as to identify the first instance of a misdemeanour by the operator. This is definitely a step in the right direction and the fact that this is one of the topics that are being spoken about on this kind of scale assures us that we are moving in the right direction. We hope more such moves are made toward safer transit for our children so that they can, in turn, grow up and make our roads in the future even safer!