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Time for local governments to act on school bus safety: watchdog

(Xinhua)

08:04, December 14, 2011

BEIJING, Dec. 13 (Xinhua) -- Local governments should take immediate action to make school buses more safe, China's safety watchdog said Tuesday following a third school transport tragedy in less than a month.

Local governments should start to check school buses and correct problems with management now, rather than wait until relevant regulations are passed, Huang Yi, spokesman for the State Administration of Work Safety said.

Huang's words came after 15 children died when their bus crashed on Monday in eastern China's Jiangsu province, the second day after the State Council released draft regulations aimed at improving school bus safety.

The draft, which has been released to solicit public opinions over the course of the next month, stipulates that local governments above county level should take overall responsibility to ensure the safety of school transport systems.

It also stated the central government will establish a system of mandatory technical standards to test the quality of school buses.

School buses should adhere to stricter standards and be of higher quality than average coaches, said Huang, who described recent tragedies as "saddening."

The government should clamp down on illegal and unsafe "school buses," forbidding them from carrying students any longer, he said.

Meanwhile, the draft proposes that school buses should have prioritized right of way in traffic under the command of police, enjoying privileges including the use of bus lanes in rush hour and private cars being forbidden from overtaking them when the buses are picking up children.

In addition, Huang called on parents to report on flawed school buses.

Also on Monday, a school bus carrying 59 pupils was hit by a truck in the city of Foshan in south China's Guangdong province, injuring 37 students.

Last month, 19 preschoolers and two adults were killed when a nine-seater school van packed with 64 people collided head-on with a coal truck in western Gansu province.

Premier Wen Jiabao later pledged to "rapidly" issue safety regulations and standards for the country's school buses while further improving the design, production, and distribution of the vehicles.

 
 
 
 
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