As many parents and guardians prepare to send their little ones and not-so-little-ones off to the next stage of their educational development, it time once again to think about how to stay a little safer on that journey to and from school.
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, however, we can all consider how these vehicle occupants can become vulnerable, and hopefully, by being aware, avoid possible problems and injuries on the journey.
On the bus, if seatbelts are provided, they must be used. 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, all new buses must have seatbelts fitted, although that still leaves a lot of the fleet without seatbelts, many of those over 11 years old. The government has this year progressed a proposal to guarantee that all buses used on school runs must have seatbelts, although, as with all legislative changes, if this does become mandatory it is likely to take many years, at which time the antique fleet may also have been replaced with newer vehicles in which seatbelts are mandatory.
Trips from home to school can be a good time 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 travelling, and try to lobby the school to only hire buses with seatbelts and check that a monitor accompanies the children during the journey.
During late September, there will be an awareness campaign focussing on seatbelt and child restraint use, and the use of seatbelts on school buses (where fitted). The Guardia Civil, DGT, local and regional police will all be working together to check on these vehicles and the use of seatbelts, although in fairness, they should not have to enforce any laws which are designed with one single aim, so save lives.