Awareness programmes held at Kuvempunagar police station and Avila Convent

While private vans and autorickshaws ferrying children to schools have stayed off the road in Bangalore in protest against the penalties mandated by the Transport Department, the Mysore traffic police have launched a drive to educate these drivers on the department’s guidelines.

On Thursday, Assistant Commissioner of Police (Traffic) Vishnuvardhan and his team conducted awareness programmes at Kuvempunagar police station and Avila Convent. Several private school van and autorickshaw drivers attended the programme.

A matter of serious concern for parents and school authorities is vehicles packing schoolchildren over the seating capacity.

In view of such violations, the Transport Department has come out with a set of guidelines keeping in mind children’s safety.

As per the guidelines, two children aged below 12 can be accommodated on a seat. This means that vehicles carrying schoolchildren can accommodate double the carrying capacity. However, responsibility lies not just with the drivers but also the school authorities. They have to set up monitoring committees comprising school authorities, parents and drivers’ representatives. In addition, a permit from the Regional Transport Authority is a must.

These guidelines were explained to the drivers at the awareness programmes. However, they opposed them citing various reasons.

‘No major crackdown’

According to the police, they are not cracking down on drivers of private school vans and autorickshaws on a big scale as they are “ready to give them some time” to comply with the new guidelines.

“They may get some time but they have to start complying with guidelines that can be executed immediately,” a source in the police department said.

He added: “There is resistance to the new guidelines owing to economic factors. They argue that they will not get good returns by transporting schoolchildren by adhering to these guidelines.”

According to the police, the other guidelines are: private school vans have to paint their vehicles yellow and paste a sticker on all four sides that stating ‘school van’; drivers have to wear a light blue uniform with black shoes; parking places have to be identified by the schools; vans should be fitted with speed governors to cap the maximum speed at 40 kmph; vehicles should not be more than 15 years old; the driver should have a minimum of 10 years’ driving experience.

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