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The BBC's Tom Heap
"The police operation showed many vehicles are dangerous"
 real 28k

Monday, 3 April, 2000, 23:49 GMT 00:49 UK
School bus safety fears
Child leaving car
Many parents prefer to make the school run themselves
Police banned 250 school buses from the road during a two-week safety crackdown.

Operation Coachman also found uninsured and banned drivers at the wheels of school buses.

A total of 3,712 vehicles - including buses, coaches, minibuses and private hire vehicles - were checked by the 36 police forces across England and Wales involved in Operation Coachman.

One in 15 vehicles was found to be so dangerous they were banned from the road immediately, said police, who found some drivers were not insured and others were disqualified from driving.

Norfolk's chief constable Ken Williams, chairman of the Association of Chief Police Officers' (Acpo) traffic committee said the results were "unacceptable".

He added: "This really is quite alarming."

Structural faults

The operation, which ran from 13-24 March, also involved the Vehicle Inspectorate and the Benefits Agency.

More than 250 vehicles were immediately taken off the road and about 300 more had defects which warranted attention.

Oil or fuel leaks, which posed a danger to motorcyclists and pedal cyclists, as well as children, accounted for some of the bans.

Other vehicles had serious structural faults, an Acpo spokesman said.

Speeding and the previous offences of drivers were further causes for concern.

Mr Williams said the agencies were determined to maintain efforts towards ensuring safe journeys and would consult the Department for Education and local education authorities to see how to reduce the risks to children.

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See also:

24 Feb 00 | Education
Parent attacks religious bus ban
13 Jan 00 | Education
Bus fares cut call for schools
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