Fumed over new ‘seatbelt law’, school van operators appeal Traffic Dept to come clear

School van drivers are amused at this 'seatbelt development' and think that it will be a non-starter.

Alok ParekhUpdated: Thursday, November 03, 2022, 03:14 PM IST
article-image
Representative Image |

Mumbai: A day after a notice was issued regulating all motor vehicles carrying up to eight passengers to have seatbelts, school vehicle operators were taken aback. They are in a dilemma if their school vans are included in this ‘compulsory seatbelt’ law as there is no clarity from the authorities on the matter.

As per the school van operators who spoke to the Free Press Journal, said, it is not possible to install seatbelts in all school vans on such short notice and that they would require at least a few months.

Meanwhile, school van drivers are amused at this development and think that it will be a non-starter given the fact two students at least sit on one seat. They’re unsure as to how a single seatbelt per seat would solve the problem.

Traffic department unclear on seatbelts, a concrete decision to follow

An official of the Mumbai Traffic Police said, “We are still unclear if seatbelts are made mandatory for school vans or not. We are yet to discuss the matter and once we reach a conclusion, a separate notice would definitely be issued for them. That notice would mention the smallest of details that the operators and drivers must be aware of. Until then I cannot say anything more.”

Impossible to follow instructions given the less time

Anil Garg, Maharashtra School Bus Owners Association, said, “It is practically impossible for us to install seatbelts in school vehicles on such short notice. School vans don’t have seatbelts installed, and it would take us time to install belts in all our vehicles.”

Shahid Shaikh, who is the Joint Treasurer of Mumbai Bus Malak Sangathan (MBMS), stated, “School vehicles are locked at a speed limit of 40 kmph already. I still don’t know if it is really necessary to install seatbelts at such a speed. However, it is for the safety of students and we wouldn’t mind doing the needful. But again, time is what we demand.”

Ganesh Dinkar, a school van driver from Ghatkopar expressed his views as well. He said that despite the speed limit being locked at 40 kmph, most drivers barely cross even 35 kmph. “Two or more children sit on a seat in vans. Even if seatbelts are installed, I’m wondering if it would be comfortable for students. With so much inconvenience, we would require a lot more vehicles to have just the ideal number of students in every vehicle with proper seatbelts in each one of them.”

Anil Garg also stated that a separate notice should be issued for school vehicle operators with more transparency as to what is the exact law for them. With that, they would have a clearer picture of what steps they should take if any.

Mixed reactions from principals

Some principals from Mumbai’s suburban schools say that seatbelts should be installed as the safety of students must be the first priority of not just schools, but also the drivers who carry them in their vans from long distances. They added that there are equal chances of school vehicles meeting with accidents and without seatbelts, students would be at a risk.

On the other hand, there are several principals who said that seatbelts in school vehicles are a waste of time and money. If seatbelts are installed more vehicles would be required which can result in the city being more polluted. According to a principal from Bhandup, “it is not right on the authorities’ part to have issued a generalised notice for all motor vehicles.”

(To receive our E-paper on whatsapp daily, please click here. To receive it on Telegram, please click here. We permit sharing of the paper's PDF on WhatsApp and other social media platforms.)

RECENT STORIES

US university-led study sounds caution on chemotherapy drug for Cancer

US university-led study sounds caution on chemotherapy drug for Cancer

Here's how India's French learners can benefit from new Canada initiative

Here's how India's French learners can benefit from new Canada initiative

Jharkhand: Supreme Court summons Chief Secretary in teachers appointment case

Jharkhand: Supreme Court summons Chief Secretary in teachers appointment case

Tamil Nadu: College bus driver lets nephew take the wheel in viral video, gets dismissed

Tamil Nadu: College bus driver lets nephew take the wheel in viral video, gets dismissed

Mumbai: NMIMS' Vaayu take over Sunday streets with flashmob in lead up to festival

Mumbai: NMIMS' Vaayu take over Sunday streets with flashmob in lead up to festival