Less than one month after Wen Jiabao pledged to improve school bus services in response to the fatal crash of a nine-seat van packed full of preschool students, the media is full of reports on new accidents. To start with, an incident in Jiangsu province has left 15 children dead. AP reports:
A school bus taking primary students home slipped off a country road into an irrigation ditch in eastern China, killing 15 children and highlighting continuing safety problems in the country’s school transport system following a similar tragedy last month.
[…]The accident occurred Monday evening as the bus was traveling along a rural highway outside the city of Xuzhou in the province’s north. News reports said it careened off the road after swerving to avoid a pedicab. Xinhua said the driver had been detained for investigation.
[…]The crash comes amid an emotional national discussion over the poor condition of Chinese school buses and chronic underfunding of public schools, particularly in rural areas which have lagged far behind cities over the past three decades of rapid economic development.
An article in China Daily describes policy actions being drafted just prior to Monday’s crash aiming to prevent such accidents:
A day prior to the accident, the Legislative Affairs Office of the State Council published draft regulations aimed at improving school bus safety, a move sparked by a nationwide outcry following the deaths of 19 children in an overcrowded, nine-seat bus.
[…] The draft proposed that school buses will have right of way in traffic under the command of police, the vehicles will be able to use bus lanes in rush hour, and private vehicles will be forbidden from overtaking a school bus picking up children.
It stipulates government will establish standards to test the quality of school buses, which now have to go through safety checks every six months.
While the Jiangsu case appears to have resulted in the most fatalities, it was not the only school bus crash to hit the news so far this week. Xinhua carries word of another devastating school bus crash that occurred yesterday:
Two students were killed, and more than 20 others were injured, including seven seriously, on Tuesday morning in a bus-truck collision in Zhumadian city of Central China’s Henan province, local government authorities said.
A bus rented by Gucheng Middle School collided with a truck at around 8:50 am Tuesday. More than 50 students and teachers were on their way to a training campus when the bus they were on rammed into the truck, officials said.
Thirty-seven pupils were injured after a school bus and a heavy truck crashed yesterday morning in Foshan City, south China’s Guangdong Province.The students were sent to hospitals for treatment and one of them was in intensive care for brain injuries[…]