Parents of students at the Abu Dhabi Indian School presented to school officials their proposals for what they believe will be a safer transport system. Their proposals were prompted by the death of a student on Monday. The boy, Suraj Jadhav, who was studying in class IV, was killed in an accident involving the school bus.
Gulf News, June 9th.
Millions of children in the United States ride safely to and from school buses each day. Although school buses are the safest way to get them to school an average of 33 school-age children die in school bus- related traffic crashes each year. These incidents are sadly not rare in the UAE.
Young children are most likely to be hit because they:
- Hurry to get on or off the bus.
- Act before they think and have little experience with traffic.
- Assume motorists will see them and will wait for them to cross.
- Don't always stay within the bus driver's sight.
Traffic Jam in front of the schools
Most of the schools in the UAE suffer the worst traffic congestions in their premises during the morning and afternoon shifts. These areas are also highly prone to accidents with the mad rush of some 1000 - 1500 students who have to squeeze their way through the school buses, cars and other private transport parked in front of the schools. Even the best of driving skills will be inadequate to get out of that pandemonium.
What can the schools do?
The huge traffic in front of the schools is a matter of concern because your child's safety is also at risk. The parents of the Abu Dhabi Indian High School rightly recommended that to avoid the congestion at the school gate, 'enough gatekeepers should be appointed to control the flow of children.' 'The schools can also allot specific positions for schools buses, cars and other private transport waiting in front of the school.' The practical aspect of adopting any of these or other safety measures is not easy. But recognising the urgent need to ensure the safety of school children, the school authorities have to take the matter into immediate concern.
Safety steps you can take
1) Supervise children to make sure they get to the stop on time, wait far away from the road, and avoid rough play.
2) Teach your child to ask the driver for help if he drops something near the bus. If a child stoops to pick up something, the driver cannot see him. Then the bus could hit him. A book bag or backpack helps keep loose items together.
3) Make sure clothing has no loose drawstrings and backpack straps are short, so they don't get caught in the handrail or bus door.
4) Encourage safe school bus loading and unloading.
5) If you think a bus stop is in a dangerous place, talk with your school office or transportation director about changing the location.
How safe is your child's school bus?
Do you send your child off to school in a bus that is not really safe? If not to the extent of having seat belts like many schools around the world have, our children too deserve the basic comforts and safety. Travelling in an air-conditioned bus should not be a privilege enjoyed by just a few school-going children in the UAE. There are schools that boast of high standards and top results, but have yet to provide for air-conditioned buses for their students. Why are these schools compromising on the basic necessities, which can endanger the child's health?
It takes an accident or some untoward event to awaken us to these sad realities. On the one hand when parents are constantly guarding their little ones from the smallest of dangers and teaching them the basic safety rules, those who have equal responsibilities towards the child's safety are violating the same rules.