Chandigarh traffic police to enforce seat belt mandate for school buses - Hindustan Times
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Chandigarh traffic police to enforce seat belt mandate for school buses

By, Chandigarh
Apr 18, 2024 08:16 AM IST

This point was highlighted by Chandigarh deputy superintendent of police (DSP, Road Safety) Jaswinder Singh during the recent meeting

After a meeting called by the UT education department and the state transport authority with principals of all government and private schools, the traffic police have reiterated that school buses should have seat belts for the students’ safety.

This comes after the Punjab and Haryana high court’s directions in a PIL filed in 2019. (HT File Photo)
This comes after the Punjab and Haryana high court’s directions in a PIL filed in 2019. (HT File Photo)

This point was highlighted by deputy superintendent of police (DSP, Road Safety) Jaswinder Singh during the recent meeting.

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This comes after the Punjab and Haryana high court’s directions in a PIL filed in 2019. In January 2020, in a slew of directions, the court had directed the UT administration to convene a meeting and ensure all buses are fitted with seat belts.

Singh said the traffic police would increase checking to ensure that there is compliance with the Safe Transportation Policy for Students (STRAPS) of the UT transport department in letter and spirit. And vide orders dated January 17 2020, the high court has directed for “installation of seat belts in school buses.”

Speaking about this, DSP Jaswinder said that buses should start getting seat belts at the earliest. “While most buses don’t come fitted with seatbelts, aftersale modifications can be done. The manufacturers should also comply and provide seatbelts installed with buses.” However, he explained that there is a complication that seat belts are not enough for children below 12 years and for them booster seats are also needed and this is also something buses and their manufacturers must comply with. UT education department officials added that challans can be issued by the authorities for this.

President of the independent schools association HS Mamik said, “Most schools have hired contractors for buses and it is their duty to comply with the STRAPS directions and the high court orders. Educationists can’t also be transport specialists.” He added that the authorities are purposefully not taking any action against overloaded autos, which are the most dangerous form of transport for school children because there is a nexus between the auto drivers and the police. As per the high court, autos can seat only four children at one time, but this rule can be seen flouted frequently.

E-rickshaws as school transport also discussed under STRAPS

While the STRAPS mentions the standards of auto-rickshaws and maxi cabs, the same for e-rickshaws is missing because of their introduction after the policy’s formulation in 2015. DSP Singh said it was discussed that the same standards that apply to auto-rickshaws should apply to e-rickshaws as well and only four students should be seated in the e-rickshaws at one time. Further, as per STRAPS both the sides of auto rickshaws must be fitted with horizontal grills/bars/gates for the safety of the children which also applies to e-rickshaws but was found missing. Singh said that the schools must prepare a list of all students and what transport they use and share it with the traffic police. “We will hold special sensitisation drivers for e-rickshaws and for parents who choose them. We will also take up with the authorities that the policies under STRAPS must apply to coaching centres as well. Currently, challans for coaching centre buses are issued as per the Motor Vehicles (MV) Act,” he added.

Box: Sector 26 pilot model to continue

While the UT education department had met with the schools in Sector 26 and devised a pilot model to tackle traffic congestion there last week, UT director school education Harsuhinderpal Singh Brar said the model which was earlier to be run on a trial basis for seven to ten days will be continued as there is a noticeable change in managing the traffic here. St Kabir Public School had written to the authorities to allow children to board the bus from outside the school but it is likely not to be considered now.

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