Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 22 August 2019

Safety is top priority for Abu Dhabi school bus driver

A school bus driver performs a pre-trip inspection before every journey to ensure it is safe for the pupils of Al Mustaqbal School.
Iftekhar Ali says he keeps his children in mind when he drives pupils to and from  Al Mustaqbal School. Antonie Robertson / The National
Iftekhar Ali says he keeps his children in mind when he drives pupils to and from Al Mustaqbal School. Antonie Robertson / The National

ABU DHABI // Bus driver Iftekhar Ali says safety is always the top priority during the journeys to and from school.

“I treat these children as my own and focus on getting them to school safely,” said Mr Ali, 29.

The Pakistani father of two inspects his vehicle before each journey every morning to ensure that it is safe for pupils of Al Mustaqbal School.

“I walk in front of the bus and check the tyres, the spare tyres, the lights, the mirrors, the fuel tank for any leak,” he said.

“I also check the brakes. If the bus is not fit to drive, I need to contact Emirates Transport for a replacement.”

He will not drive the bus until the bus attendant says that the children are on board and are wearing belts, or they have left the bus and are clear of the vehicle.

“All children must wear a seat belt, and the attendant must check as each child boards the vehicle,” said Robert Hodges, an international road safety expert. “All children must also be signed on and off the bus to ensure that no one is left behind.

“Extra care needs to be taken during the hot months and during Ramadan, when fatigue often sets in with drivers and attendants. Each should ensure the other is fit to drive and supervise at all times.”

Mr Ali said he had a huge responsibility. “We need to ensure the safety, comfort and well-being of all children inside my bus.

“Each time I start the engine, I think of my twins back home. And I look at these children inside the bus, who are the future of the UAE. Alhamdullilah, I have not been involved in a single accident so far.”

He makes sure to fasten his seat belt, keep to the speed limit, maintain a safe distance from the vehicle in front, and avoid risky lane changes.

School bus drivers and supervisors attend regular training and workshops to raise awareness on traffic safety. They have medical tests and training on safe driving, defensive driving and child management.

Other safety initiatives include daily bus safety inspections, regular maintenance, a manual pupil checking system, a disciplinary system to ensure that children’s behaviour does not affect their safety and that of others, and cameras and tracking systems to identify the cause of accidents and keep watch on drivers or pupils.

Although school bus drivers obey the rules, many motorists do not. “Our managers always remind us not to respond to them in a negative way when they get angry and honk at us,” said Mr Ali.

“I walk down the aisle to check each and every seat and press a check button after making sure all the seats are empty. I make sure that all children are off the bus before leaving.”

rruiz@thenational.ae

Updated: June 25, 2017 04:00 AM

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