Online database to keep tabs on school buses

Updated: 2013-04-09 07:44

By Jin Zhu (China Daily)

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 Online database to keep tabs on school buses

A traffic policeman checks the seat belts on a school bus in Shenzhen, Guangdong province. Provided to China Daily

A national online database will keep track of every school bus on China's roads, the Ministry of Education said on Monday.

The ministry said it has ordered local authorities to collect detailed information on buses that take children to kindergartens and schools.

Information about drivers and chaperones will also be collected, according to an online ministry notice.

All data will go into a national management system this year, and educational authorities will be responsible for updating the information, the notice said.

It is the first time China has set up a platform to register information about school buses.

A ministry official who did not want to be identified said on Monday it is aimed at addressing the public's safety concerns.

"The system will help with information exchanges between authorities in charge of education and traffic safety," he said.

For instance, he said, all traffic violations and accidents involving school buses will be entered into the database every month.

The move comes after China established licensing systems for school buses and strict requirements for drivers last year, in response to a series of road accidents.

The number of accidents involving school buses in China fell 42 percent year-on-year in 2012, the ministry said. The total death toll dropped 50 percent over the same period.

However, officials and analysts said concern remains over students in rural areas, where unlicensed buses and overloading is prevalent.

Some unlicensed school buses are in use due to heavy demand from students in rural areas where schooling cannot be provided nearby or the provision of public transport cannot be ensured, Du Kewei, a ministry official, said in February.

Unlicensed school buses have also been used by some kindergartens, he said.

Chu Zhaohui, a senior researcher at the National Institute of Education Sciences, urged authorities to give more attention to those unlicensed school buses in future.

"It's impossible to ban all unlicensed school buses in rural areas in the near future, so the government should keep a close eye on those vehicles to ensure safety," he said.

Authorities also need to support more school bus services focusing on rural areas to ensure no dropouts and traffic accidents because of insufficient transportation, he said.

(China Daily 04/09/2013 page7)