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Friday, June 28, 2013

Accidents ~ School vans ~ utter neglect of safety - a day in life of Chennai student !!!

How does your kid commute to school … many of us are not in a position to drop them to school…. Most make arrangements with private autos; vans and cycle rickshaws….. and feel that they have done their duty….. how many have cared to see the way their children commute in the vehicle arranged….. many a parents would keep on making calls to their van driver … just to know where the van is, whether their delay in preparations  could impact and whether their children is safely travelling…….. all ‘without even thinking that they are imperilling their own and other children travelling in that van’……… see some small boyish driver driving the van rashly ~ speaking on the mobile phone all the time !! and he could well be answering your call….. duty does not stop with that… after all you are paying for that van, can’t you care to check whether the vehicle is properly maintained and whether it is being driven by a person, who possess valid DL and is in a state of mind to drive it properly….. ???

Public memory is shortlived….in July 2012, the city mourned the unfortunate death of a class II child at Mudichur. The unfortunate girl slipped through a hole on the floor of the school bus she was travelling and was run over by the rear wheel of the same vehicle.  Going by newspaper reports, S.Sruthi, a class II student of Zion Matriculation Higher Secondary School in Indira Nagar in Selaiyur, Tambaram, was seated on the sixth row on the bus (TN 23 S 9952). It was 4.05 p.m; her stop, near Manimangalam koot road on Mudichur Road, was near. Sruthi got up, but her little feet slipped into a gaping hole right under the seat, into the road below. The rear wheels of the bus ran over her, killing her instantly ~ a clear case of negligence ….. of the society – by the driver, the owner not maintaining properly, the school not caring for their students and the parents not caring to check up !!!

Now in a recent gruesome instance of vehicles ferrying school kids turning into veritable death traps, a 13-year-old class IX student of a private school was killed and eight of his batch-mates injured after the van in which they were travelling overturned at the tail end of the over-bridge on Pallavaram Radial Road on 26th June 13. The victim, Deepak, was crushed to death under the weight of the vehicle, which dragged him for some distance before coming to a halt, in a mishap caused by a clear case of negligent driving. A group of 20 students of Vel’s Vidhyashram had been proceeding to the school, when it met with the accident at 8.10 am.  The accident took place about a km from the school.

Indian Express reports that it was the cleaner of the van, Mahesh, who had been at the wheel when the accident took place, and he does not even have a valid licence. After the accident, Mahesh abandoned the vehicle as well as the children and ran away. The driver, Saravanan, who had picked up the students from their residences, had entrusted the cleaner with the job of dropping them at school. And this had been the routine in the past two days. It was ironic that the parents had hired the vehicle, as Saravanan was formerly employed on the school fleet. According to eyewitnesses, Mahesh, while driving, was talking to a friend accompanying the van on a two-wheeler. While overtaking a car, he tried to avoid hitting his friend riding the two-wheeler and swerved to the extreme left in an attempt to prevent the vehicle from jumping off to the service lane. This caused the vehicle to overturn. The driver alighted from the vehicle and escaped with his friend on the bike.

Immediately, a passer-by alerted the 108 Ambulance Service. A private ambulance of Parvathy Hospital, which was stationed in front of Vel’s University, also rushed to the spot and moved Deepak, Aarthy (14), and Nirmalraj (12) who were injured on the spot to Parvathy Hospital. Deepak was declared dead on arrival, while Aarthy and Nirmalraj were admitted in hospital.

A news article in TOI states that Schools are clear that they would refuse to take responsibility for accidents caused by private vehicles. They have categorically stated that the management is not responsible for accidents that occur outside. Schools said the onus was also on parents to ensure the safety of children by checking the vehicle and the driver’s background.  One of the Correspondents is quoted as stating “Parents have to first look for a neighbourhood school to put their children in. If that is not feasible, they should make efforts to shift their residence near the child’s school. Safety should come first,”.      

One cannot even think of antagonising school managements ~ but by the same coin, does any of the school ensure that their school bus is being operated safely – the vehicles are properly maintained, that the drivers are qualified and that they adhere to safety norms including not speaking on mobile phones……. Just go to any school or college zone, you can see for yourself the violations and the rash driving of yellow colour buses owned by Educational institutions…. ‘Safety should come first’ for all – and these vehicles are endangering the safety of other road users too….

With concern – S. Sampathkumar.

28th June 2013.

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