New traffic rules released targeting safety of school children

Roads and Transport Cabinet Secretary Kipchumba Murkomen. He has issued new rules relating to school vehicles aimed at curbing accidents.

The Cabinet Secretary (CS) for Roads and Transport Kipchumba Murkomen has released new traffic rules to govern school transport in a bid to curb rising accidents which recently involved school buses.

In the Traffic (School Transport) Rules, 2024, each school vehicle will have a comprehensive insurance cover and will be inspected twice a year.

For school vehicles transporting elementary students, the rule requires such institution to employ a school vehicle attendant who will have a STOP sign for use by the attendant.

Each school vehicle will further be required to be fitted with functional safety belts designed to be used by children, be painted yellow in colour code FFD800, and have at least one fire extinguisher conforming to the applicable standard issued by the Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS).

Approved type is readily accessible and available for use on board the vehicle, which should be maintained in good and efficient working order.

In addition, the vehicles will be required to be fitted with dual red light indicator on the uppermost part of the front and rear sides of the bus and be printed the words “SCHOOL BUS” on both sides and the words “DO NOT PASS WHEN RED LIGHTS ARE FLASHING” at the rear in block letters at least 8 inches in black colour.

Further, the vehicles will be installed with stop signal arms on the front and rear right hand side and with mirrors that enable the driver to have adequate visibility of the sides, rear and along both sides of the bus.

The bus should be fitted with a vehicular telematic system conforming to the applicable Kenyan standard approved by KEBS.

All seats should be fixed and not foldable, free from sharp edges and upholstered with soft, shock-absorbent and fire-resistant materials, while the seat handles, if any, will be covered with a material that prevents injury in any collision.

No bars or any other obstructions may be fixed on the windows whether from the inside or from the outside, and the vehicles will be required to be conformed to the applicable Kenyan standards in force relating to passer body construction and speed limiters.

Most school buses are hardly inspected and stakeholders in the education sector have attributed the accidents to their poor condition.

Moving forward, drivers of school vehicles must validly be licensed by NTSA for the category of school vehicle being driven.

Drivers shall have to successfully undergo and pass an annual assessment for criminal record. This shall include convictions of child abuse and incidents of arrests for driving under substance influence or other drugs.

“A school vehicle driver who possesses a criminal record containing a conviction for child abuse and driving under the influence or other drugs shall be disqualified from being a school vehicle driver,” read the rules.

Should the proposed regulations become law, it will be mandatory for drivers to conduct thorough pre-trip and post-trip checks on the vehicle to ensure that the vehicle and safety equipment is operational and that no child is left on board the vehicle.

According to the rules, all school transport providers and school attendants will ensure that the school vehicle attendant is validly licensed by the National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) as a PSV conductor, and undergo and pass an annual assessment for a criminal record which will include convictions of child abuse and incidents of arrests for violence.

Most schools hire school attendants whose job is to assist children to safely embark and disembark from the bus as well as aid the drivers.

School vehicles will operate between 5 am and 10 pm while the maximum speed permitted is not more than 80kph.

“No person other than the students, teachers, parents, guardians, chaperone, school official, driver in training or substitute driver shall be permitted to ride in the school transport while students are being transported,” added the regulations.

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By Education News reporter

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Education News - Newspaper Vol 281