School buses should be among the safest vehicles on the roads. Consequently there are very high safety standards and they are subject to constant checks. However, numerous vehicles used for this type of transport are still not compliant with the established regulations.
The Spanish Directorate General for Traffic (DGT) has undertaken an intensive campaign to monitor the status of school transport. In all, agents from the Traffic Division of the Spanish Guardia Civil police force checked over 2,000 vehicles between 16 and 20 January this year.
Over the five day campaign, a total of 776 vehicles were found to be noncompliant, most of them for administrative irregularities. For example, not having specific authorization for carrying schoolchildren was the case of 581 of the vehicles reported, while 167 of them did not have an unlimited civil liability insurance policy, which is required by law.
Meanwhile, 64 sanctions were for failures in service and emergency doors and their activation devices, and two drivers were penalized for exceeding the permitted driving time and failing to observe the regulatory rest periods. Another 26 were reported for not having anyone on the bus to monitor the children, which is also a legal requirement.
In this respect, we recommend reading the article "Tips and advice for safer school transportation", which details the requirements that all school transport should adhere to.
Alcohol and drugs
Although during the campaign none of the drivers tested positive in breathalyzer or drug tests, there are many known cases when a school bus driver has tested positive. The most recent example was the accident in Fuenlabrada, where the driver tested positive for cocaine and in which 14 of the 25 children traveling on the bus sustained minor injuries.
The DGT also relates the case of two drivers who tested positive for alcohol and drugs last November. One of them was the driver of a school bus taking children from a school in Villaviciosa de Odón (Madrid) who almost doubled the permitted alcohol level.
The other was in Trujillo (Caceres) where a driver was detained as the alleged perpetrator of a traffic offense for driving a school bus with five times the permitted level of blood alcohol (0.84 mg/l). The vehicle was immobilized by the police until another driver from the bus company could come and continue the school route.
Safety belts on every seat
All buses registered after 2007 are obliged to have seat belts fitted to reduce fatal injuries in 90% of head-on collisions or vehicles overturning. However, during the week-long inspection campaign some eight buses were reported for failing to use them.
Detailed below are the regulations for how children should travel on buses: