Do Parents Know that Children WALKING to School is SAFER than SENDING them on a Crowded Vehicle?

Do Parents Know that Children WALKING to School is SAFER than SENDING them on a Crowded Vehicle?

 “Our action against school vehicle operators recommending suspension of driving licence/vehicle permits is as per the directions of the High Court of Karnataka. In an order passed on June 17 in a petition filed by Karnataka State Legal Services Authority, Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Justice H.T. Narendra Prasad expressed unhappiness over the action of the police against overloading of students and directed the latter to hold a special drive against school vehicles, especially those operated for private schools. The Police Commissioners and the Superintendents of Police were directed to initiate action against vehicles operating in contravention of Motor Vehicle rules. They were asked to give a report to the High Court on July 16. Therefore we are not budging as per the demands or protest by the vehicle operators, instead will do our duties as per the law”- Traffic ACP Manjunath Shetty speaking to Team Mangalorean

Mangaluru : Wow- Children have started walking to school since two days?? And that’s a good sign, which prevents tarffic jam near school zones, and good exercise for them. Earlier, If you see the scene near the school gates at various schools in the City, you’ll be surprised to note the way school children are transported in vehicles-like auto-rickshaws, mini vans, vans etc. There is no safety at all- the children are transported like how they are transporting chickens? School buses, vans and autorickshaws are riddled with issues that put the safety of children at peril. Overcrowding, lack of GPS in buses and no attendants, these are some of the other problems that parents have raised.

For parents, every trip is a source of anxiety, and they wish there was more regulation for private cabs. 15 to 20 children are driven in a van, they remove the seats to put up benches, and there is no safety. A child’s hand may get caught in a nail, children could get sick fast owing to being in close contact. I have seen min-vans driving with 25 children cramped inside. All the school bags are tied to the rack on top of the vehicle. It looked like the vehicle could topple any time. Why are the parents so careless about the safety of their children? Why are these vehicle drivers/owners ignorant about the traffic laws?

Based on the Supreme Court’s directive, the Karnataka Motor Vehicles (conditions for vehicles engaged in transport of schoolchildren) guidelines, issued in 2012, specify the following rules: has issued guidelines directing all school managements to adhere to certain safety guidelines. Some of the guidelines are: all school buses should be fitted with speed governors, and the body of the van shall be painted highway yellow colour. Besides this, the driver of the cab must have valid licence to drive LMV-Transport Vehicles for a period of at least four years. Many of these private vehicles do not adhere to the basic rules issued by the Supreme Court. And now they are showing their ignorance by calling a indefinite protest, thereby putting the children education in jeopardy and their parents worrying.

But it is nice to see that a bunch of children have started walking to school, like most of us did decades ago. We never got dropped to schol in high-end cars or two-wheelers, we walked. I and my other two brothers walked 8 kms to and fro from our house to St Aloysius Intitution- and we have become responsible hard working folks. These days even if the children homes are just a few metres away from their school, they need a drop to school by a vehicle. How about now, when the school transport vehicles have stopped their service due to protest- now the children have learnt the difficulties. Above all, we need to blame the PARENTS for spoiling their children with high class facilities. Children should educate themselves the hard way, like most of us did during our school and college days.

In spite of Police Commissioner Sandeep Patil undertaking an extensive awareness drive among stakeholders on transportation of people before school opening , the awareness has never affected a bit, as Team Mangalorean noticed the vehicles (Auto-rickshaws, Mini Vans, Mini Buses etc) were over loaded with children, when they were dropped at their respective schools. Even parents were seen taking their children triple ride- is this what you call safety concerns of the parents over their children? Even though the Karnataka High Court has issued strict instructions to the law enforcers to ensure that no vehicle exceeds stated passenger capacity, but that has not changed a bit in how the vehicle owners/drivers operate in Mangaluru- and our cops are trying their best to crack down on such violators, but many a times its all in vain.

This has been going on for years, even after the tragic accident that took place in Udupi couple of years ago, where quite a few children perished in a accident- that example has not brought any awareness as of today. Just by implementing rules wont serve the purpose, the rules need to be enforced strictly. We have seen the situation in the past, and we are seeing it today- are we waiting for a major accident to happen (just like the one in Udupi) here, so that action could be taken ONLY after that? A humble request from Team Mangalorean to our beloved Police Commissioner Sandeep Patil and other higher authorities in the law enforcement dept to kindly enforce the rules strictly, and crack down on drivers/vehicle owners who bring children in over loaded vehicles.

The city has hundreds of schools with thousands of students each, many of them situated in narrow by lanes. The civic authority has an internal department to study traffic density and road networks and ensure that all proposed school buildings have ample parking inside their premises. Sources reveal that in spite of several schools have also written to traffic police but their complaints have not evoked an adequate response. Traffic cops, on their part, said they were making efforts. The problem is that several schools have their entrance right on arterial roads. During peak hours, multiple vehicles ferrying students cause snarls as they all assemble at one spot.

Another thing to blame for traffic jam is the present generation being lazy- children who live nearby to their schools are dropped to their respective schools by their parents by vehicles. Why can’t the parents make their children walk to school if its nearby? I bet the parents walked when they went to school. Many a times ambulances who rush the ailing patients to hospitals get stuck in this mess- and the worst part is that even though the ambulances are trying to wade through the congestion, you can see parents and other vehicle drivers being ignorant still trying to drive and park their vehicles near the schools.

Absence of traffic police personnel is also worsening the situation and reckless driving of private bus drivers cause uneasiness for parents. They demand permanent posting of police personnel outside the schools and also wanted the school grounds to be opened for parking vehicles after school hours. Sources reveal that even though a joint meeting was held between school management, parents, police authorities long ago-the initial response was encouraging, but years after the meetings, not much seems to have changed. Try going through a school zone during peak school hours and you will see for yourself that chaos still reigns all around.

Speaking to Team Mangalorean Traffic-ACP Manjunath Shetty who was controlling the traffic near Bendore said, “We won’t budge to vehicle drivers/owners demands or protests. Action against school vehicle operators recommending suspension of driving licence/vehicle permits is as per the directions of the High Court of Karnataka. In an order passed on June 17 in a petition filed by Karnataka State Legal Services Authority, Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Justice H.T. Narendra Prasad expressed unhappiness over the action of the police against overloading of students and directed the latter to hold a special drive against school vehicles, especially those operated for private schools. The Police Commissioners and the Superintendents of Police were directed to initiate action against vehicles operating in contravention of Motor Vehicle rules. They were asked to give a report to the High Court on July 16”.

Management of schools want to make extra money by forcing their students to take the school buses- but have they checked the safety in the buses. Team Mangalorean found instances of school buses running without a conductor, the door of the bus not being closed, or drivers taking the wrong direction on a one-way. Some drivers seen talking on the phone, and few of them driving rash. It is the safety of children at stake. Some of these schools have been pulled up several times. Schools are quick to point out that they are not responsible to enforce rules in these cases. However, the Karnataka State Commission for Protection of Child Rights recently had passed an order stating that if rules governing school transport are violated, school managements would also be held accountable.

Schools must ensure that basic rules are followed, feel parents. One parent suggested that talking to the staff every morning would help prevent incidents of drunk drivers taking the wheels. There should also be checks to ensure that people with adequate experience alone drive the buses. Another suggestion is that transport staff be brought under the school’s payroll to improve accountability. “Once schools outsource transport to a contractor, they are quick to wash their hands off. Even if something happens, they blame it on the transporter. To the parents, it does not matter who is running the buses, as the school charges the fee,” said Sathish M, whose children go to a private school in Bendore

According to ACP Manjunath Shetty they had received complaints from some citizesn and parents about children being stuffed in vans, which could lead to injuries. “Some drivers seat more than 20 children when there is only a capacity of eight. It is scary, as the children don’t have space to move. When the vehicle is loaded with extra children it is not safe, and it will be hard for tehm to breathe also. In case of an untoward incident, it can lead to greater injuries,” he said. Since the crackdown that began few days ago, many vehicles were booked and these vehicles were fined and a note was made about them that will lead us to review them at later stages and eventually when they come to us for approval, we can decide what to do. More than 10 per cent of all school vehicles over seat and stuff children inside,” he said.

According to Shirley, the mother of two and who drops her daughter to school on her scooter said that the campaign was long overdue. “I have heard about children getting injured as their heads hit the top of the cars while on bumpy roads. The children are always stuffed together and it can lead to suffocation too,” she said. She added: “When we try talking to the van owners, they always tell us point blank that either we send the children with them or we take them on our own. The intervention by the authorities was needed.”

This is the third day that the school transport vehicles drivers/owners have stopped their service, and this morning there was a press meet at Hotel woodlands, and also a huge gathering at Nehru Maidan- one driver speaking to Team Mangalorean said that they have sorted out the issues with Police Commissioner and from tomorrow they will resume their service in the morning, and that they will try their best to follow the traffic rules, provided police stop harassing for unwanted reasons. Oh well- we will have to wait and see, whether these drivers will keep their word or the situation of transporting more children will continue as usual.

Thanks to the police commissioner, SP and other authorities in the police department in adhering to the order passed by SC, and for cracking down on traffic rules violators. Various efforts made to solve traffic congestion have yielded little results. What do you think is a concrete solution? Is there anything the authorities, parents or the schools can do? If you have any suggestions or comments, write in to info@mangalorean.com, and we will forward it to the concerned people or highlight it in our website

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1 Comment

  1. Nothing is safe these days.
    Good old Mangalore is finished since the last 2 decades.
    Charm of our city is raped by the unscrupulous builders.
    Too many people live in Kudla.(Alfie might get hysterical as he has obviously copy righted the word kudla).

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