We must remember that although the school bus is one of the most common means of transport, it is also one of the safest.
As parents, we are primarily responsible for the road safety of our children. For this reason while trying to ensure maximum safety for our children on the school bus it is worth taking into account certain aspects of the safety measures utilized on them and the regulations governing school transportation as well as educating of our children to be aware of and know how to avoid risky situations.
Royal Decree 443/2001 establishes the safety conditions for school transport and of minors. Since 2007 the European Directive orders that all buses must be equipped with seatbelts (or another restraining system) and that their use is obligatory on any journey, long or short, urban or interurban. Here no concessions are to be made since 9 out of 10 child injuries either serious or fatal, could have been avoided by using a child restraining device (child seats for the youngest or seatbelts for those older)
As interested parents we are within our rights to check that any buses contracted are equipped with all of the safety measures and that they fulfill all of the regulations, particularly those that refer to child restraining systems. One way of guaranteeing this is for parents to collaborate with schools by way of PTA’s in reviewing school transport contracts.
On the other hand is always useful and highly recommended that children learn their part in this important lesson at home, that they know how to sit correctly using the seatbelt and always behave in a reasonable manner throughout the journey. This is why it is important, that we, the parents are the first to understand the correct use of a child restraining system.
Apart from this it is very important that they always arrive in time at the bus stop or pickup point, never run for the bus once it has started and don’t fool around close to the road, always respecting others.
During the journey they should understand that for their safety they must always take notice of the attendant and remain seated until they arrive at their destination without being a nuisance to their mates the attendant or the driver.
An attendant is always recommended on all school transport and is obligatory when a third of the children are under 16 or when disabled children are passengers.
The attendant must wear a high visibility jacket and they are there for the safety and control of the pupils. They are charged with loading an unloading the bus, assigning seats making sure bags etc. are correctly stowed, ensure correct use of seatbelts and leading the children into the school grounds.
The school bus driver also has obligations. Before setting off he must ensure that everything is in perfect working order and fulfills the legal requirements for school transport and that road safety regulations are always respected with regard to driving and rest periods. Under normal circumstances the maximum duration on this type of journey is 45 minutes.
The local authority also play an important role in the safety of pupils using school transport. They must guarantee a safe environment with visible vertical signage clearly marked in the area of schools, adequate road markings, illuminated accesses and where necessary a traffic control officer.
With the goal of collaboration in the prevention of road accidents involving children, the MAPFRE FOUNDATION has carried out inspections and lectures in schools in different areas of Spain. As a result of these experiences and with the idea of creating a simple tool, we have developed, together with the Spanish Road Association, a manual for the inspection of roads in the area of educational establishments. (http://www.fundacionmapfre.org/fundacion/es_es/images/Manual-auditorias-entornos-escolares_tcm164-58428.pdf). In which we identify possible problem areas, recommend solutions and offer example of good practice that may act as a reference point in the improvement of road safety around schools.
If we all do our bit, we can improve the safety of the school run.