Mysuru: The City Traffic Police this morning launched a special drive to ensure the safety of school children. They registered as many as 60 cases till noon against owners and drivers of the vehicles for ferrying extra school children (more than the capacity of the vehicle). The crackdown will continue till evening.
The practice of overloading children in vehicles continues unabated with children seated on the sidebars of the autos and two others holding on for dear life on the driver’s seat as he zips through the city’s streets with little or no care for their safety.
Although the Supreme Court has laid down clear guidelines on the carrying capacity of vehicles ferrying school children, most drivers don’t bother to follow them. Even the parents and the schools themselves don’t seem overly concerned about the children’s safety.
The special drive was launched at 7 am at Siddarthanagar, Narasimharaja, Devaraja, Krishnaraja, Kuvempunagar and V.V. Puram traffic jurisdictions and was led by the respective Inspectors and Sub-Inspectors. It was launched based on the directive issued by City Police Commissioner K.T. Balakrishna and Traffic ACP G.N. Mohan.
In the drive, 50 school vans and 10 goods autos were booked and documents including the drivers licence (DL) and vehicle papers have been impounded. Nowadays, autos have modified their seats to allow the children to sit next to the drivers, which is completely unsafe as they can easily fall off. Despite warnings and many such crackdowns drivers carry more number of children in their vehicles and this puts children’s lives at stake.
“We acted against autos and vehicles with children stuffed inside them like sardines. We found that many institutions do not follow the norms laid down for school buses or other vehicles carrying children. Under the rules, an autorickshaw cannot carry more than four school children, but we find many carrying 10 to 12 children,” a Police Officer said.
The drive was launched to check seating capacity, condition of vehicles, driver details and other norms. “Shockingly, we found that goods vehicles were used to ferry children,” he added.
Going by the guidelines, an autorickshaw can carry only four children over the age of 12 and five if the children are below 12. Instead, an auto carries six to nine children with their bags along. An Omni vehicle is allowed to carry six or seven children but instead the vehicle carries more than 15 children and over 5 children are crammed on the seat near the driver.
“The problem is most parents don’t consider this to be a safety hazard and at times even discontinue the bus service to opt for a van or auto for their children to save money,” said another Police Officer who participated in the drive.
“Usually school children do not object to this kind of overloading as they are not aware of the rules and it is their playful age. The same is not with grown up children as they know the rules and the transporters cannot stuff them inside the vehicles,” the Police Officer added.