Campaign seeks to give children a safe ride
Updated: 2011-11-19 09:12
By He Dan (China Daily)
Traffic police in the Chengguan district of Lanzhou, capital of Gansu province, watch children climb aboard a school bus on Nov 17. The province started a safety campaign in response to a recent school bus accident that killed 21 people. [Chen Mingzhe / for China Daily]
BEIJING - A famous micro-blogger has started a campaign to make children safer on China's roads, following a school bus accident on Wednesday in Gansu province that killed 21 people and injured 43.
Deng Fei, a journalist at Phoenix Weekly magazine and a promoter of child welfare, said he plans to start a pilot project in Changsha, capital of Hunan province, to find a way to ensure student safety on the road with the cooperation of local branches of the All-China Women's Federation.
"Our research team has started to study how the school bus system is running in developed countries such as the United States in order to learn from their experiences," Deng said.
Deng said he plans to set up a special fund to donate free school buses and provide transport subsidies of 1 yuan (16 cents) a day for poor students.
"School bus accidents happen in China from time to time, and the cause does not simply lie in the bus quality but a combination of many factors such as management of drivers and long-term operation of school buses," said He Yongqiang, a coordinator of the campaign.
"Social organizations can carry out some trials, but only when the government establishes rules and makes sure the rules function well can students' safety be guaranteed," said a netizen named shamozhidiao.
Yuan Guilin, a professor at the center for citizenship and moral education under Beijing Normal University, said he believes that clarifying the responsibility of the educational authorities and schools through legislation is the best way to make school buses safer.
So far, running school buses has not been included in schools' logistical work and whenever an accident happens the educational departments are not held responsible, which results in disorder in the school-bus market, he said.
Statistics from public security authorities show that about 18,500 children under the age of 14 die from traffic accidents in China every year and traffic accidents have become a large threat to children's safety.
"In 2008 the government released detailed safety standards for school buses and my company strictly abides by these standards," said Li Guanjie, a brand officer for Huanghai Bus, a bus manufacturer based in Dandong, Northeast China's Liaoning province.
"But it's not mandatory for schools or school-bus businesses to buy the buses (that are manufactured according to the standards)," he added.
Li said his company started to produce school buses in 2009 and the prices of school buses range from 150,000 yuan to 300,000 yuan.
Li said market research shows that China needs at least 1 million school buses.
Many businesses that run school buses prefer to use vehicles that are not designed solely to transport students so they can make use of them for other purposes.