UAE: FNC members call for stricter safety measures on school buses

The members put forward several proposals to improve safety on school buses



File photo for illustrative purposes
File photo for illustrative purposes
by

Ismail Sebugwaawo

Published: Thu 10 Mar 2022, 2:52 PM

Last updated: Thu 10 Mar 2022, 8:15 PM

Members of the Federal National Council (FNC) have called for stricter safety measures in school transport, including strict criteria to hiring school bus drivers to reduce accidents and ensure safety of pupils.

The members put forward several proposals to improve safety on school buses, including mandatory training courses for all school bus drivers, need for drivers to undergo psychological tests before they are hired for the job and assigning small-sized buses to transport smaller students so they can be monitored by the driver and supervisor.

Last month, a 12-year-old girl was killed after she was run over by her school bus in Ajman. According to Ajman Police, the Umm Ammar school student, hailed from a Gulf country. The girl got off near her house and moved across the front of the bus front to get to her home. Unfortunately, the driver did not spot her and began driving the bus, running over the child.

Hamad Ahmed Al Rahoumi, first deputy Speaker of the FNC and member representing Dubai, says it was important to tighten control measures on school buses and their drivers, by setting up unified and approved procedures and mechanisms for periodic and sudden inspection, in addition to intensifying awareness campaigns to educate bus drivers about the importance of abiding by traffic regulations and child transportation safety measures.

“It is important to introduce mandatory training courses for school bus drivers, including training them in dealing with children, and ensuring safety requirements in each bus,” he said.

“There is also need to assign responsibility to senior school officials of overseeing bus drivers’ operations and children’s transport, to ensure drivers abide by the instructions, rather than employees who have no control over these drivers.”

FNC member Naama Al Sharhan has suggested allocating smaller buses for transporting pupils in kindergarten and lower grades so that the driver can easily see all of them from the front and rear mirrors as big buses block the drivers’ view of young children due to the “height of the bus.”

“School bus accidents have become a societal concern, and radical solutions should be developed to reduce these accidents,” said Al Sharhan. “The buses must be appropriate for pupils’ ages and safety requirements must be doubled in terms of the presence of a supervisor whose role is to ensure safe entry and exit of pupils from the bus.”

The FNC member added that drivers should also be educated about the need to pay attention to the children as they board the buses and to ensure they have safely been received by their families or caretakers when they return home before driving away.

“There is also a need to intensify awareness campaigns among children to teach them how to protect themselves on school buses and to set guidelines for them,” she said.

Psychological tests for drivers

FNC member Adnan Hamad Al Hammadi, who also heads the Education, Culture, Youth, Sports, and Media Affairs Committee, blamed the increase in school bus accidents on the poor driver selection system.

He proposed conducting body tests for each driver to measure their psychological capabilities, personal traits, culture, habits, and the extent of the driver’s ability to deal with children and protect them.

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“School bus drivers should be subjected to periodic medical and psychological examinations to ensure their readiness, health and psychological fitness to perform their job,” said Al Hammadi.

“A bus driver should not be just a person with a driver’s license and experience in driving heavy vehicles and buses. The matter goes far beyond that. The bus driver must have personal qualities characterised by responsibility, calmness, and social culture. The whole society pays the price for the lack of awareness by bus drivers.”


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