On the other hand you should be aware that the DGT carried out inspections during the final part of 2014 to check, for both the presence of these restraining systems and also to make clear the importance of a fully operational seatbelt being installed in every seat used for school transport. They also carried out a campaign between the 9th and 15th of March on awareness and the monitoring of the use of seatbelts and child restraining systems.
This is not an easy task: there are many and a varied school transport vehicle, from microbuses up to coaches, of all ages makes and models. In some cases, unfortunately, safety is an issue that is not given as much attention as it should; this is where parents need to take the initiative. Although it is the responsibility of the school or college to ensure that the vehicles are properly serviced and are in order, it is no less the responsibility of parents to be sure that their children are travelling safely.
Since it is the responsibility of parents, they should be aware of the regulations governing school transport and expect them to be complied with, you may feel that this is not the case:
- A vehicle used for school transport should not be more than 16 years old.
- It must display a sign to indicate that it is being used for school transport, both upfront and behind.
- Technical inspections should have been carried out and should be clearly noted in the documentation: This should be yearly for vehicles under 5 years old and half-yearly for older vehicles.
- It must be covered by obligatory and complimentary insurance. The complimentary insurance must cover civil liability including injury and damages.
- It must carry authorization for school transportation.
- It must provide disabled seating.
- The floor must not be slippery and the edges of the steps must be marked in a bright color.
- The doors must be equipped with handrails for easy access.
- The seats directly in front of the steps or those not protected by a seat back must have some form of fixed protection barrier. If children between 5 and 11 years old use the bus, the seatbelts must be 3-point and boosters should be available.
- The maximum journey time in either direction should not exceed one hour.
If it doesn’t comply with any of these points, parents should take steps and demand that their children only travel by transport that is safe and by the safest route. Unfortunately the responsibility does not end there. Since 2007, buses are required to be equipped with seatbelts on every seat but just as importantly, that they are using it correctly.
Making sure that they comply is the most difficult part. It is not only the parents or their children’s education that has an influence but also the willingness of the driver to make sure that they use the seatbelt according to the regulations whilst on the bus.