With three cases of drunken driving against school vehicle drivers in a less than a month, parents are a worried lot.
Two bus drivers were booked on Friday alone. Venkataswamy and Krishna had brought 80 children each from News Horizon Gurukul, Marathahalli for a school excursion to Lalbagh for a picnic.
“Around 11 am, I was on rounds. I noticed that the two drivers were not wearing uniforms. When I asked why, I immediately realised they sounded drunk. The alcometer also showed positive for both,” said Mahalakshmi, inspector, who booked them for drunken driving. “We later spoke to the school management and they arranged for another bus to pick the students up,” she added.
Just the previous day, a private vehicle driver ferrying students from Bishop Cotton School was caught for drunken driving during a special drive conducted by the traffic police in Ulsoor area.
The driver Manju was booked and the bus seized as he had neither the vehicle’s papers nor a license, said Ulsoor traffic police inspector, Mohammed Ali.
Adugodi Inspector Ramesh Kumar said that less than a month ago, bus driver of Vivekananda International Public school (VIP) School was caught for drunken driving.
All the four accused were let off with a fine of Rs 2,000, according to the rules of the Motor Vehicles Act. But the Motor Vehicle Amendment Bill 2016 which was recently presented at the parliament proposes to hike it to Rs 10,000.
New Horizon Gurukul, VIP and Bishop Cottons School did not respond to The News Minute’s calls.
Parents say that school authorities are often lax about the safety of children. Shanta, whose son studies in Class 8, said that she stopped sending her son by a school bus after an accident a few years ago.
“The buses are very rash even on small roads. Once, the driver braked suddenly, causing most children to fall. My son lost three teeth,” she said.
She said that the school charged Rs 20,000 for a year as conveyance, but accepted no responsibility except for sacking the driver.
“The school management nonchalantly called us and told us he needed to be taken to a doctor. Only when we reached there we knew the truth. They refused our request to compensate and asked us to book a case against the driver if we wanted,” she said.
Uma Shanker, another parent, said that it should be the school’s responsibility to make sure the children are safe.
“I haven’t seen rash driving cases. It is not about compensation the school should make sure the people hired come through a reliable agency. They must make sure these people come with properly verified papers,” Umashankar said. He added that he would gladly participate if parents groups’ organised protests over these issues.
However, Manjunath, whose son studies in Chinmaya Vidyalaya, felt that the government should increase the fine and punishment for school bus drivers.
“What’s the guarantee that people hired through agencies do not commit crime? The punishment should be harsher and the fine should be heavy. Even the school and the agency should be fined,” he said.