Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 22 August 2019

New safety measures for Dubai and Northern Emirates school buses

Alarms, swipe-card access and motion sensors being fitted to vehicles to stop pupils being left in overheated buses.

DUBAI // School buses are being fitted with swipe-card access, motion sensors and loud alarms in Dubai and the Northern Emirates to improve the safety of children.

The move is intended to stop pupils being left in overheated vehicles, which claimed the life of a three-year-old girl in Abu Dhabi three years ago, along with several other narrow escapes.

The devices will be installed in 2,345 school buses between August and October, and the system will be introduced in November.

It will cover all school buses that carry a total of 100,000 pupils enrolled in 383 government schools in Dubai, Sharjah, Ras Al Khaimah, Ajman, Umm Al Quwain and Fujairah, the joint committee of the Ministry of Education and Emirates Transport said.

Emirates Transport said the three measures would prevent pupils being left in extremely hot parked buses.

More than 236,600 pupils in 786 schools across the country travel each day on 4,736 Emirates Transport buses, which provide travel to all public and some private schools. There are 5,336 drivers assisted by 5,509 supervisors.

In the first three months of the year, Emirates Transport’s safety record was generally good, with only one minor accident for every 321,000 kilometres covered, said Abdullah Al Ghufli, executive director of its school transport division.

“We ensure our buses comply with a set of safety requirements and standards,” Mr Al Ghufli said.

Over the past two years, safety measures have been launched by Emirates Transport and Abu Dhabi Education Council in Abu Dhabi.

School buses have been fitted with a device that counts the number of children getting on and off. A motion sensor detects movement inside a parked bus and is connected to a system that triggers an alarm if someone remains on board.

A check button at the back of the bus forces the driver to walk down the aisle and verify that each seat had been vacated before he can press it. Speakers have also been installed to communicate with any child left inside a bus.

The new technology was mainly driven by the death of Nizaha Aalaa, 3, who was in her first month at Al Worood Academy when she was left on the bus on October 7, 2014. Her body was found a few hours later.

“The safety aspects are so very important,” said Robert Hodges, a UK road safety specialist.

“And as well as various systems already in place, I found that bus drivers and supervisors and attendants can be greatly improved by good quality training of staff plus refresher courses held every six months or yearly.

“Often the simplest changes, if properly applied, cause very large increases in safety.”

In April 2008, human error claimed the life of Aastish Shabin, also 3, who died after being left on a school bus overnight.

Twelve months later another girl, four-year-old Aiman Zeeshanuddin, died of dehydration after she was left on a bus. And in 2011, a three-year-old girl whose identity was not released was killed when a school bus reversed over her.

“All school bus drivers and supervisors undergo hours of training and awareness sessions,” Mr Al Ghufli said. “On average, drivers are required to complete 10 training courses and sessions in a school year.”

The courses are traffic safety awareness, dealing with children, parents and the general public, first aid, emergency procedures and fire safety training.

“We take the safety of pupils very seriously but we also strongly believe that it is a shared responsibility,” Mr Al Ghufli said.

“That is why we endeavour to work with the private and public sector to ensure the message of traffic safety is delivered.”

rruiz@thenational.ae​

Updated: June 25, 2017 04:00 AM

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