Cameras on school bus stop arms soon
Motorists risk fine when they overtake school buses at full stop while students are getting on and off.
Overtaking school buses when students are getting on or off is a violation and the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) is planning to install cameras on the stop arms to catch violators.
As per regulations, every time a school bus stops to drop off or pick up students, an automated arm with a stop sign gets activated on the left side of the bus. It is mandatory by law for vehicles to stop behind the bus when the sign is activated. However, many drivers ignore the sign.
Speaking during a session on Day One of the UITP Mena Congress, Adel Shakeri, director of Transportation Systems Department at RTA, said the authority is studying installing cameras to ensure people do not overtake school buses.
The RTA is also implementing a system that will ensure buses on the school run do not spend more than an hour on the road per trip.
He also said that RTA is working with the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) to better regulate the school bus fee structure.
“The safety of students is of the highest priority for us and to ensure the highest standards of safety we keep studying possibilities of introducing new technologies to enforce our rules and regulations. We are studying the installation of cameras on the stop arm of school buses as we have seen that many motorists overtake the bus even when the stop arm is activated, endangering the safety of children. With the new system, the cameras will detect the violating motorists and automatically issue a fine,” said Shakeri.
“We are working with every stakeholder of the sector to improve safety, to find out what is best for the children, while keeping in mind the interests of all the stakeholders. We are introducing technology wherever possible to improve safety and since 2008 we have been able to reduce school bus accidents by 81 per cent,” he said.
He added that Dubai has registered zero deaths in school bus accidents over the last five years.
Recently, the RTA revamped school bus regulations, introducing several technical features to the buses, including mandatory GPS tracking system, CCTV cameras as well as 3+2 seating arrangement. It also banned the 12 seater mini vans from March this year.
Shakeri said that following the introduction of new technical features, several schools and transport operators have announced a fee hike.
“School transport operators are using the technical upgrade of buses as a pretext to increase bus fees. They are trying to transfer the cost to the parents and I don’t think it is justified. We believe the cost of upgrading the buses is not so much to warrant an increase in fees, that is why we are working with KHDA to put a system in place to regulate and review the fees,” said Shakeri.
He added that included in the new safety policy of school buses is the restriction of journey time to one hour for every school bus trip.
However, he said more details on how the policy will be implemented and monitored will be made available later.