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Vikash Sharma

The week-long special drive by Odisha State transport department has brought the issue surrounding safety of school children back into the limelight.

Around 1096 vehicles engaged in transporting school students in the State have so far been penalised for flouting road safety rules in the last seven days. During the inspection drive, at least 820 vehicles were found plying without fitness certificate, 387 vehicles did not have valid permit while 311 drivers lacked any valid Driving License, said a data shared by the State Transport Authority (STA).

As per the norms, schools engaging buses on contractual/ hire basis for transporting students shall abide by the stipulations and they need to conduct safety audits of these vehicles as well.

The guidelines further say that all vehicles engaged in ferrying school children must have CCTV cameras, GPS trackers, first-aid box, proper grills, emergency exit, and fire extinguisher. They should maintain a list of students and their parents’ names and contact numbers. There must be an attendant from the school in the bus.

Here are other guidelines:

-Overloading of vehicles is not permissible. The number of children in the bus shall be restricted to its seating capacity.

-The carrying capacity of school buses and three-wheelers that transport school students should be displayed both inside and outside the vehicle. Light vehicles that are used for transportation of vehicles must also adhere to the safety standard.

-In all such vehicles at a conspicuous place in the front and back side of vehicles 'school van' ‘on school duty' must be written.

-Apart from this, no person shall drive or no school authority shall allow any person to drive any school bus unless such person possesses the qualifications and satisfy the conditions as below:-

1. He must have a valid Driving License to drive such class of vehicle.

2. He must have a minimum driving experience of at least 5 years in similar category of vehicle;

3. He should not have been fined more than twice in a year for offences like red light jumping, violation of lane discipline or allowing unauthorized person to drive etc.

4. He should not have ever been challaned /fined for the offences of over-speeding, drunken driving and dangerous driving resulting in fatal accident.

5. He should undergo driving skill test before the School Level Transport Committee once in a year. He should also undergo eye test at that time.

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