Authorities have laid down detailed specifications for school buses to ensure the safety of students. According to latest strictures, bus routes will have to be approved by school principals. Image Credit: Gulf News Archive

Dubai: Stricter regulations governing school buses will be in place by September this year as traffic authorities have amended the School Transport Law.

Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) officials told Gulf News on Sunday that six months' notice have been given to schools to comply with the changes, following which the law will be implemented stringently from September 1.

"According to the law [first issued in 2008], school buses cannot speed more than 80km/h, and must have RTA-approved speed control devices installed to ensure this," said Furat Ali Al Ameri, director of franchising and enforcement at the RTA's Public Transport Agency.

"The window tints of school buses can be no more than 30 per cent and the windows must not open wider than 10 centimetres."

The law also mandates the presence of a female attendant on every school bus, except buses transporting boys above grade 6. Attendants must have completed adequate training and must have the ID card issued by RTA on them while they are on duty.

Schools must assign a bus transport supervisor, whose contact details have to be communicated to the parents, the law says.

"Action will be taken against schools who have children overcrowded in buses without adequate seats as the law obliges schools to provide one seat for each child," Al Ameri said.

Routes need approval

Bus routes must be approved by the school principal as well. Stop sign boards, GPS systems and first aid kits are also a must on school buses.

"The safety of children is at the heart of the new changes," he said, urging schools to abide by the regulations. RTA will introduce more improvements as required, he added. He called on motorists to be mindful of school buses offloading and picking up children.

Many a times we see that even though these buses have the stop sign on, some drivers just continue on their way, which could potentially lead to fatal accidents, he reminded.

The law defines the responsibilities of four stakeholders — bus attendants, bus drivers, parents and transport companies.

Responsibilities of the bus attendants include ensuring the safety of students while boarding and alighting and assisting them across the roads.

1,887 offences last year

As many as 1,887 traffic offences were recorded against school buses in Dubai last year, the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) disclosed on Sunday.

These related to non-compliance to the School Transport Law by 224 schools — including 78 public schools and 146 private schools, said Furat Ali Al Ameri, director of franchising and enforcement, at RTA's Public Transport Agency.

He added that another 387 offences were committed by 63 schools in January.

"The highest number of offences, 514, were due to non-compliance with exterior bus specifications, 350 were due to unlicensed school bus drivers or drivers with expired permits, 326 for not following safety specifications, and 222 for not operating the stop sign."

"Non compliance to interior bus specifications and safety standards led to 76 offences, 39 cases were for operating school buses without permits and 30 due to drivers not doing their responsibilities, among other violations."