The Ministry of Interior (MOI) has urged school bus drivers in Qatar to be “extra cautious” while driving children to and from school as the new academic year kicked off for thousands this week.
In a statement on its Facebook page, MOI added that school officials need to guarantee that bus drivers are competent and cautious, as well as ensure they are taking periodic safety training courses.
A lack of trust of bus drivers due to past tragedies also contributes to parental reluctance. In 2010 for example, a four-year-old student at the DPS-Modern Indian School died from suffocation after falling asleep in her school bus.
The driver didn’t notice her and parked the vehicle at the end of his shift, leaving it locked on a hot day.
To encourage more parents to use the school bus service – which would help clear up some of the congestion on Qatar’s roads – officials have been experimenting with a new smartphone app that would allow school buses carrying children to be tracked via GPS.
Executive director of Mowasalat Nasser Al Khanji previously told Doha News that some 80 buses from three schools would be initially outfitted with the technology as part of a three-month trial starting this month.
He added that the GPS service would eventually be rolled out to buses serving some 227 schools across the country.
In addition to offering safety tips for drivers, MOI also gives this advice for parents and children using school buses:
- Stay out of the street and avoid excessive horseplay while waiting for the school bus;
- Wait for the bus to completely stop before approaching it;
- When riding the bus, the child should remain seated and keep their heads and arms inside the bus at all times;
- Children should not shout or distract the driver;
- Take care to avoid walking in the driver’s “blind spot” — this is the area from the front of the bus to about 10 feet in front of the bus; and
- Parents, be present at the bus stop before and after school for extra safety.
Some residents commented on the post with further safety instructions. Guillaume Alinier said:
“And all bus passengers should wear a seat belt at all times! Even from inside a large vehicle people get ejected in case of (collision)…”
Others zeroed in on bus drivers’ rights, and how their treatment may factor into children’s safety. Hemraj Khanal said:
“You think only about security and safety. But did you think about (the) driver’s salary? You look (after) childrens’ rights because he is your son and (she is your) daughter. Sometimes you (should) think about (the) driver’s rights?”