Every day, 230,000 students use buses to go to and from school, and with around 17,000 buses (some 40% of the entire private fleet) used as dedicated transport vehicles on the school run.
Generally speaking, using a bus for school transport is a safe means of travel. Last year there were no fatalities among users of this type of vehicle, but due to the vulnerability of the passengers and the roads through which they drive, mostly conventional roads, regular focus to maintain these levels of security is required.
According to Gregorio Serrano, the Director General of the DGT, “this type of transport is vulnerable to accidents because of the importance they have and the age of those affected, and requires greater security than other means of transport in order to maintain the current level of safety, and so we continue to develop campaigns of awareness that keep users, drivers, parents and schools alert.”
For this reason, and because the safe mobility of minors is one of the priorities of the DGT as it is included in the basic lines of the Road Safety Strategy 2010-2020, an awareness campaign is running all this week to monitor this type of vehicle.
Officers from the Guardia Civil, assisted by colleagues from the local and regional police, will carry out inspections consisting of administrative controls to check the authorisations and documents that these vehicles must have for the correct provision of the service.
They will then verify that the technical conditions and safety elements of the vehicle, which are much more stringent than normal operations, as are the special requirements that must be met by the driver, such as driving licences, driving times and rest periods.
In addition, they will check that drivers drive at the speed allowed, which is slower than normal, and that they do not use a mobile phone or other devices that cause distractions since both factors, inappropriate speed and distractions, are the main causes of incidents in which this type of vehicle is involved. In addition, alcohol and drug controls will also increase.
Due to the importance of the seatbelt, special attention will be paid to their use in school buses that have them installed. Currently more than 60% of this type of vehicle have seatbelts.
According to several studies, the use of a seatbelt whilst in a bus would reduce fatal injuries by 90% in the event of a head-on collision or rollover, since, correctly fastened, they prevent the passenger being projected from their seat and reduces impacts on the chest, abdomen and legs.
Since October 2007, it has not been possible for new vehicles without seatbelts to be registered, although that still leaves 40%of the fleet without seatbelts and over 10 years old.
In 2016, school buses were involved in 32 incident, (20 on interurban roads and 12 in urban ones), in which no one died but 17 occupants were injured.
According to a study prepared by the Traffic Association of the Guardia Civil, the majority of incidents occur on conventional roads (last year 65% occurred in this class of roads), with the most frequent type of incident being frontal-lateral collision, and distraction and inappropriate speed appear as more frequent concurrent factors.
EDUCATING IN THE SCHOOL BUS
Trips from home to school can be good times for the adult accompanying children to remind them of some messages about road safety, such as:
· Never stop behind the bus.
· Wait for the driver’s signal and always cross at least three metres ahead.
· Inside the bus, stay seated and with the seatbelt on, if it is installed.
· Do not run when you get to the bus, or when leaving.
· Obey the driver and the monitor.
In addition, parents should check the safety of the buses in which their children are traveling, request the centre to hire buses with seatbelts and check that a monitor accompanies the children during the journey.
OTHER HEALTHIER WAYS TO GO TO SCHOOL
In addition to the school bus there are other means of transport in which the students move to go to school: private car, public transport, bicycle or simply walking.
With the intention of promoting sustainable mobility from an early age, the DGT, in collaboration with the Federation of Municipalities and Provinces, is encouraging safe school roads , which favour and stimulate travel on foot, by bike or public transport in the first leg and back to school.
Currently there are more than 100 municipalities in 35 provinces and approximately 300 schools that are working or already have safe school roads.