10,000 school children die in road accidents in India every year

A comprehensive safe school transport policy on the anvil with stress Use of technology -Abhay Damle, Joint secretary MoRTH

New Delhi April 29, 2019 About 100 Eminent road safety experts and stake holders from Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, state transport departments, CBSE, NCERT, Ministry of Human resources, Schools and Fleet Operators, Research Organisations, United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, Asia and the Pacific and  World Health Organization (WHO) are taking part in the Two day conference on ‘Formulation of Draft Policy for the Safety of Transporting School Children’ which began here today .

In his key note address Mr. Abhay Damle, IRS, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Road Transport & Highways, (MoRTH)  Govt of India, said, “Absence of data is a huge challenge, the Ministry is working towards creating a system where the exact location of the accident can be recorded. Details through the help of technology will help us get data in a more transparent and accurate manner. I welcome this initiative by IRTE and I do expect that they will be able to share key recommendations and help us in creating this policy.”

“Lodging of an FIR against the driver as done in the case of Nurpur bus accident in Himachal Pradesh in which 23 schoolchildren died is not the end solution, the engineering fault in the road should also have been rectified within 48 hours of the accident and the spot should have been treated as Black spot. The concerned officials should also be taken for task. Such was provision in the Amended Motor Vehicle Act , but unfortunately the bill collapsed in the last parliament house. It will be brought back in the new parliament “ Mr Damle Said.

“we also urged the schools to allow private buses Ferring school children inside the school for pick and drop as only schools own buses are allowed in and private buses allowed to drop and pick children from outside the premises” he added.

In his inaugural address Mr. Sudeep Lakhtakia IPS, Director General, Bureau of Police Research & Development & National Security Guards, Ministry of Home Affairs, Govt. said,” While India has been on the path of improving economic indicators. The schools are mushrooming but the road to school or back home from school is not safe. Without data we are in realms of speculation. We need a more robust way to collect data and find better solutions. We need to draft SOPs and key pointers to drafting this policy, I would request the stakeholders to deliberate and suggest solutions. We need to draft our policies well and this initiative is a great example of private public partnership.”

Dr Baluja, President IRTE and Director CTM in his opening remark appealed, “I would urge the Government, UN and all stakeholders to consider Right to safe transportation along with the right to education. I would also urge you that if Zero Tolerance can be attained for the Safety of Children in all aspects of planning, implementation & enforcement.”

The WHO Global Status Report on Road Safety, 2018 reveals that road traffic injuries are the first cause of death among children aged 5 and 14. As far as India is concerned, the data provided by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, Government of India also highlights that 10,000 children below the age of 18 are killed in road accidents every year. Children travel to schools through various modes of transport and hence The Development of a Draft National Policy for the Safety of Transporting School Children (in all modes of transportation) is the need of the hour.

The policy document is not only for India but both for India and South East Asia to incorporate the following domains: roles and responsibility, road environment, vehicle factors, standard operating procedures as well as the curriculum of training of important stakeholders dealing with the transportation of school children in all modes of transport including both motorised and non-motorised means, enforcement, and post-crash management.

The major highlight of the conference was the student session dedicated to the voice of the most vulnerable stakeholder – our children. Couple of schools from Delhi NCR participated in the panel discussion, bringing to light horrific incidents these kids have experienced.