Parents are urged to use school transport for their children and the benefits are plenty. The Road and Transport Authority (RTA) summarised these benefits as providing comfort, security and safety for students and their parents alike, giving examples such as reaching schools on time, reducing pollution emission resulted from vehicle exhausts, and reducing traffic jams.
In 2008 the School Transport Law was passed in Dubai, defining the responsibilities of the parties involved to guarantee a safe commute in and around school bus.
Emirates Transport, the main partner in school bus transportation and the RTA reached out to remind public of these responsibilities this week during the Gulf Traffic Week, where different traffic sectors in the region are showcasing their best services and addressing ways to improve traffic safety.
Authorities speak of the golden rules that should be adhered to at all times. These are ten of the most important golden rules.
1. The danger zone
Children must be educated about the so-called danger zone around the bus, states RTA. Broadly, this danger zone is considered to be the range of ten steps from all sides of the bus. Emirates Transport writes: “Six feet from either side of the bus and ten feet in front of the bus are considered to be the danger zones as it is difficult to see children within these dimensions.”
2. Do not just cross
When the child gets dropped off by the side of the road and must cross to the other side, in order to avoid entering the blind spot of the bus driver, the RTA instructs that upon exiting, the child should walk to the edge of the footpath, and then walk to reach to the point where (s)he can be seen by the driver. Only after looking left and right, the street can be crossed.
3. The parent’s spot
The parent, if picking up the child, should be sure to do this on the side of the street where the child is dropped off and not across the street, urges RTA. “Children can be so excited at seeing you after school that they dash across the street and forget the safety rules.”
4. Wait at a safe place
When waiting for the bus to come, the selected waiting spot should be safe and away from the edge of the street. Furthermore, it is important to come at least 5 minutes in advance, to avoid danger that may arise as a result of rushing, points out Emirates Transport.
5. Role modeling
Even if the child is accompanied by a parent or caregiver, the same rules should be applied. “Make sure to follow the correct drop off and pick up practices. Don’t walk you child across the middle of a street just because you are holding his/her hand,” writes the RTA.
“Discuss safety rules with your child and practice with younger ones by walking him/her through what to look for, what to do, and what not to do.”
6. Buckle up…sometimes
The school bus must have 2-buckle safety belts fitted to all front-open passenger seats such as the front seats, and middle seat in the last row. The drivers’ seat must be fitted with a 3-point safety belt.
7. Do not disturb the driver
Children must be taught the importance of not distracting the bus driver. “Talk quietly, be courteous to the driver and follow the driver’s instructions,” is RTA’s advice to bus passengers.
“Children should be warned not to rush at the entrance of the bus to avoid any risks or dangers. Sitting on the seats and keeping the pathways clear ensures the children’s safety especially when the bus stops by surprise,” adds Emirates Transport.
8. Drivers’ warning
When there is a potential danger that could threaten the child’s safety upon entering or exiting the bus, the driver should operate his flashers. This will be a sign for the child not to come closer, explains Emirates Transport.
9. No overtaking
When driving a school bus, the driver must take into account a special set of rules. A maximum speed of 80 kmph applies to the school bus. When behind a school bus that is picking up or dropping off passengers, this bus may not be overtaken. In school areas, a school bus may not overtake any vehicle, nor change lanes.
10. An unattended child
Although it is not clear until which age this rule applies, for the younger children it is mandatory to be attended by a parent during pick-up and drop-off. “The driver may return the students to the school if no one came to collect them upon returning, under the responsibility of the parents,” writes the RTA.
In case a child is left unattended for whatever reason, it good to have a code word, the RTA advises. “Have a code word that is only between you and your child. If someone tells your child they are supposed to come with him or her but this person does not know the code word, your child should be instructed not to get in the car.”