Nearly 100 vehicles of educational institutions in Chennai and Kancheepuram districts have been pulled up in the last week during surprise checks conducted by the Transport Department at different locations. Of these, the number of vehicles engaged by colleges outnumbered that of vehicles transporting schoolchildren.

According to sources in the Transport Department, the initiative is aimed at ensuring enhanced road safety. A senior official observed that often, in road accidents involving vehicles of educational institutions, and particularly colleges, the cause for accident drivers' negligence and not the condition of the vehicles.

“The tendency to drive fast is quite high. So, we are checking if the vehicles have installed speed governors as per the Supreme Court judgment,” he said.

Speed governors are small units connected to the fuel pump of vehicles. Once the vehicle reaches the limit of 50 kmph, the speed governor will ensure that the driver cannot accelerate further.

Last week, about 50 vehicles were fined, after a surprise check near the Sholinganallur junction. “We are looking at a host of parameters. The driver should have not less than five years' experience, the vehicle should have a first-aid box, fire extinguisher and the windows should be grilled to prevent student from putting their hands outside,” said an official involved in the check.

While new vehicles of educational institutions will be registered only if they have speed governors installed, institutions have been given six months time, till December this year, to have the devices installed in existing vehicles. “However, if they go for a fitness certificate, they might have to fit speed governors even in existing, old vehicles,” the official clarified.

The last academic year was not a good one in terms of road safety of students. The Vedaranyam accident that claimed the lives of nine children and a teacher, and the death of a five-year-old kindergarten student in Alandur after being hit by the school bus door moments after she got down from the vehicle were harsh reminders of the need for better road safety.

Soon, the Transport Department will circulate guidelines to all educational institutions. “We will ensure that the guidelines are taken seriously. There will be no compromise on safety,” a senior official said.

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Meera SrinivasanJune 28, 2012

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