One might be tempted to call it a crash course, as with about a week left for schools to reopen, the Regional Transport Office (RTO) in Navi Mumbai has decided to hold a training session for school bus drivers, following a spate of accidents involving them in the recent past. Authorities have attributed many of these mishaps to the negligence and lack of awareness about safety rules among drivers.
The RTO has asked all school bus owners to send the drivers for training today, when lessons on driving safety issues will be imparted by experts in the field. In the last one year, three major and five minor accidents involving school buses have been reported from Navi Mumbai. Fortunately, no fatality occurred, but the issue of safety of schoolchildren was once again brought to the fore.
Sandesh Chavan, assistant regional transport officer of Navi Mumbai RTO, said, “Since the wellbeing of students is paramount, we are expected to take measures to curb school bus accidents. We believe that if these school bus drivers are guided by experts in the field of traffic safety, they will be able to manoeuvre their vehicles by adhering to traffic rules and regulations.”
In addition, school bus drivers and helpers will receive training in administering first aid, as contingency in case of a mishap. “If these drivers and helpers have knowledge of first aid, they can help kids in case of an emergency,” said Chavan. The seasoning exercise will be held at Tamil Sangam hall in sector 9 of Vashi. School bus operators have welcomed the training session by the RTO, but have refused to install safety equipment like speed governors, which they feel are infeasible.
SS Benith, president of Navi Mumbai School Buses Association, said “It is good to know that the RTO is holding a training session for our drivers and helpers and we will participate in the training session. However, if the RTO asks us to implement the unnecessary security measures in the name of guidance and safety, we will not apply them.”
Three major accidents in Navi Mumbai since the beginning of the year:
1. A class V student of IES New Bombay High School was injured after a school bus brushed past him in Vashi on January 10.
2. A kid was hurled out of the exit door and five others were injured in a school bus mishap on Sion-Panvel highway on January 19.
3. Two students were seriously injured after they were hit by a speeding school bus in Kalamboli on January 20, 2012.