In the wake of recent accidents involving vehicles carrying school children, including the one in which a five-year-old girl travelling in a van was killed earlier this week, the Transport Department of the Delhi Government has in consultation with experts and senior officers drawn up a new set of “stringent guidelines” for buses, mini-buses and their drivers.

Delhi Transport Minister Ramakant Goswami on Thursday said the State Government was concerned about the safety of school children who commute by hired buses and mini-buses.

The Minister said now only those drivers who have five years experience of driving a bus or mini-bus would be allowed to carry school children.

Further, drivers who have been challaned more than twice in a calendar year for traffic violations, like overtaking, jumping red light or violating parking regulations, would also lose their right to carry children. They would also be required to wear a proper uniform of grey trousers and jacket with a name plate bearing their name and that of the owner of the vehicle.

It has also been stated that drivers who have been challaned or charged with the offence of over-speeding, drunken driving or driving dangerously or found booked under IPC Section 304 i.e. culpable homicide not amounting to murder, would not be allowed to drive school vehicles. The Transport Department has also reiterated that all school buses would be required to prominently display that they are being used for the purpose of schools. They would have to be golden yellow in colour and bear an iconographic representation of two school children -- one girl and one boy.

The buses would also be required to keep their doors closed while in motion and have a conductor with a valid licence. A tab has also been put on the number of children to be carried and this number would not exceed 1.5 times the number of passengers authorised in the registration certificate for the given vehicle.

The buses as per the norms would also restrict the height of the first step of the board to 325 mm. They would be required to have convex cross view mirrors by which the driver can see the exit and entry doors; handrails along the steps at the front door; a first-aid box, fire extinguisher and a provision for bag racks under the sets.

Further, it has now been made mandatory for them to have amber flashing lights erected on the top four corners in the exterior so that it could be activated when the bus is stopped for mounting or alighting of its passengers.

As for the smaller vans being used by schools, Mr. Goswami told The Hindu that the Transport Department wants adherence to the norms and so the schools would be urged to make use of the 6,000 commercially certified vehicles for transportation of children in a safe manner.

The Minister said the new guidelines would be implemented strictly to ensure safety of school children.

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