Fast-track school bus right of way

Updated: 2011-12-17 07:56

(China Daily)

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BEIJING - School buses will not have to wait for a draft law to be ratified that proposes giving them the right of way in traffic before they are given the privilege, a senior police official said.

Fast-track school bus right of way

Two police officers count students getting off a school bus to see if it is overloaded in Xuwei district of Lianyungang, Jiangsu province, on Wednesday. Mu Daoyong / for China Daily 

Traffic management authorities at all levels should recognize such a "prioritized right" and make sure school buses can use exclusive bus lanes and bus stops as soon as possible, said Huang Ming, deputy minister of public security, at a video conference held on Thursday.

The notion of school buses' prioritized right of way was raised in a draft regulation on the safety of the vehicles that was made public on Sunday to gather public comment, after several deadly school bus accidents in the past month.

The draft listed those rights as Huang mentioned, plus a clause prohibiting other vehicles from passing a school bus when it signals it is picking up children.

The public can comment on the draft until Jan 11.

Twenty-one people, including 19 preschoolers and two adults, were killed in a school bus accident last month in Northwest China's Gansu province, and 15 students were killed in a crash on Monday in Jiangsu province.

Authorities have conducted several rounds of nationwide school bus safety inspections and pledged increased spending on school buses after those accidents.

More than 500,000 yuan ($78,800) will be paid in compensation to the families of each of the 15 students killed in Monday's school bus crash in Fengxian county, East China's Jiangsu province, local authorities have promised.

Several officials were suspended pending investigation. Zhang Bin, deputy chief of the county government, Sun Guang-hua, head of the county education bureau, and Zhang Xianqi, principal of the Zhongxin primary school, which the victims attended, were among the officials suspended, county publicity officials said.

The county government will provide 502,000 yuan for each victim, said Zhang Bin, deputy Fengxian county magistrate.

While the bus driver took full responsibility for the crash, he could not afford to pay such a large amount. So authorities have decided to pay the compensation from government funds, in accordance with laws and regulations, Zhang said.

As of Thursday evening, seven of the eight students hospitalized after the crash were recovering in stable conditions. The eighth has recovered consciousness.

The accident occurred at 5:50 pm on Monday. The bus was taking students home when it veered into a roadside ditch after the driver tried to avoid colliding with a pedicab.

Students were trapped at the bottom of the overturned vehicle and drowned as water gushed into the wreck.