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Last Updated: Wednesday, 21 January, 2004, 09:20 GMT
Are pupils at risk on school buses?
Schoolchildren on bus

Campaigns demanding stricter safety on board buses ferrying schoolchildren, are gathering pace following an inquest into the death of a 12-year-old boy.

Stuart Cunningham-Jones was killed when the bus he was travelling home on careered off the road an crashed into a tree in December 2002.

An inquest heard how the bus driver was distracted by pupils "messing around " by his cab and that two boys were fighting and as one fell, he reached out and touched the steering wheel. Seconds later the bus crashed, killing Stuart and injuring 30 others.

Parents, head teachers and bus companies want the introduction of strict laws on school travel - along the lines of those in the USA.

What changes do you think need to be introduced in order to safeguard the lives of children travelling to and from school?
This Have Your Say is now closed - read a selection of messages we have received below.


As a child I remember my grandmother being amazed when Ponty council introduced one-man operation and a drivers cab open to the passenger area. This was because here father once had an accident in such a vehicle (on Glyn Neath Bank) in the 20's) and had subsequently sought for the drivers cab to be seperate from the passenger and for use of a bus conductor. To me it appears that this is the root cause of this tradegy and that in 80 years we have learned nothing to save a few pence.
kelvin Davies, Pontypridd/Malaysia

How come there's so much publicity for this case, but none whatsoever for all the hundreds of kids killed and injured in their parents' cars or mown down as pedestrians - get real, compared with the alternatives, school buses are safe.
This was a tragic accident - the politicians and solicitors who want to turn it into a criminal prosecution, presumably against a 14 year old kid or an obviously grief-stricken bus driver, are beneath contempt.
Peter, Wirral, UK

When will people realise that UK children have some of the worst reputations in terms of behaviour and obedience. The country only has itself to blame for this tragedy. When I was a kid in Zimbabwe we never had adults on buses. There may have been a bit of horseplay but never anything like you see on the buses today. The fear that your parents would find out and punish you was more than enough to see to that.
Jon, Cardiff

When in school in Port Talbot we certainly had no other adults on the buses, which were death traps. US style buses (where traffic both behind and in front of the bus must tstop when it stops - ignore this and you WILL be in court) would have made no difference in this terrible case, but there are a host of other potential disasters that they may prevent. Procedures to stop the bus and call out the police via a panic button may have helped (I obviously haven't seen the full details), and it is a sad day if such measures are needed
Cliff, Belper, Derbyshire

Parents/guardians should have to sign a contract ensuring the good behaviour of their children. If the contract is breached then the parents are responsible for ensuring their child is taken to school.
Mavis Griffiths, Gilwern, Monmouthshire

Mandatory seat belts is all very well, but who's going to make the children wear them. When I was at school, nearly 10 years ago, all the buses had seatbelts - but I never saw anyone wear one, and certainly didn't myself. On the other hand, our regular driver had an easy way of controlling behaviour. If anyone misbehaved he stopped the bus and refused to continue until they had alighted. He then drove on, leaving the miscreant to walk the rest of the 5 miles home. No-one ever misbehaved twice.
Phil, Oxford

When in school in Port Talbot we certainly had no other adults on the buses, which were death traps. US style buses - where traffic both behind and in front of the bus must tstop when it stops, ignore this and you WILL be in court - would have made no difference in this terrible case. But there are a host of other potential disasters. Procedures to stop the bus and call out the police via a panic button may have helped and it is a sad day if such measures are needed
Cliff, Belper, Derbyshire

I notice that all politicians, officials etc are avoiding the truth - i. e., since the abolition of corporal punishment in schools, behaviour has worsened dramatically. Boys have always been naughty, but in earlier days, fear made them curb their behaviour. Now any adult who touches a child lays himself open to charges of assault at best, so of course boys are running wild, since no-one dares stand up to them. A case of this kind would have been unthinkable 25 years ago.
John Welsh, Cardiff

Laws are not the issue in this very sad case improved discipline is.
Jane, UK living in US

Although this was a terrible waste of life I think it has served to teach us all a lesson. Young people simply are not as sensible or as behaved as they used to be. Sure, you're bound to have the odd rogue in any given class, but the way children act today makes the parents look bad. Somebody else mentioned that they see kids smoking and drinking on the school buses. Something needs to be done to ensure that the laws are enforced. Our police seem to be becoming irrelevant.
Jez, Dinas Powys, Vale of Glamorgan

The first thing to do is stop these kids behaving like animals. They are totally out of control because they have no discipline and it will not improve till the parents check them.
Jeff, Port Talbot

Mandatory seat belts on all buses, especially those carrying school children. When I was in school, the parents campaigned to get seat belts on my bus and it worked. Why can't the government do this? It's the only option if the driver is the only supervisory adult on board.
Daniel Williams, Swansea

At my old school around 95% of pupils were bussed to and from school. Should there be any trouble on the buses, the school would take action against the pupil(s) involved. On some buses there were bus monitors. I witnessed very little trouble mainly because everyone was well aware of the consequences. Surely it is the responsibility of the school and/or local education authority to discipline their students? And if they can't, then to take matters further.
Beth, Wolves, UK

This incident happened on a service journey not a dedicated school bus, so any new regulations would apply to every bus service in the country irrespective of whether school children were carried. Many school buses run on a private hire basis, and the hirer (usually the local authority) has discretion to add extra requirements e.g. seat-belts. It is recognised that supervision is needed to control poor behaviour on certain buses, but all parties are expecting somebody else to assume responsibility for it.
Paul Burgess, Cardiff

There needs to be at least one other adult on the bus, apart from the driver. The driver shouldn't have to cope with such behaviour. Children misbehaving on the bus should be denied access to school transport for good - perhaps then their parents would do something about their children's behaviour. My partner is a teacher and was not surprised at the inquest findings. I can only say I'm surprised there are not more accidents and innocent people hurt.
Sarah, Cardiff

I live near a high school in a small village on the outskirts of Chester where everyday buses swing into the school yard full of children, overloaded and leaning over as they turn. None of the children have seatbelts and they are standing the full length of the bus unsupervised. Most schools use the normal pubic transport buses on contract as the cheap option.
Anon. Cheshire

The problems on school buses should lie at the feet of Margaret Thatcher. I worked in a bus traffic office during her reign, prior to her deregulating the bus industry (having one man do 2 peoples job i.e. drive and collect fares). There was always a conductor on board who supervised behaviour. If there had been a conductor on board then this waste of life and all the grief that goes with it, wouldn't have occurred. In the olden days a service would have been withdrawn to ensure there was a conductor on school buses so children had safe passage to and from school,
Bryan George, Pontyclun, Rhondda Cynon Taff.

The bus would have been a lot safer if crash barriers had been erected on this dangerous stretch of road. If it hadn't been a bus it might have been a car or a lorry. There are many places in the Vale of Glamorgan which are unsafe in this way.
J Treharne, Bridgend

Put an attendant on each of the school buses and name and shame the children who do not behaved and stop them travelling on school transport.
Anon

A school bus passes my house; on the bus you can see pupils drinking alcohol and smoking. So if these principles can not be enforced, what hope for unruly behaviour? Most people cross the road when they see 6+ teenagers hanging around on street, how they would feel about driving 30+ of these in a school bus?

Before some of the bus routes were changed here in Cardiff, part of my journey to work included a route used by school children, their jumping around and shouting was annoying (and intimidating) to ordinary passengers let alone the driver. Surly the starting point of any safety campaign would be for kids to sit down on the bus and not interfere with the driver or the general operation of the bus?
Phil, Cardiff




SEE ALSO:
Safety campaign could claim victory
21 Jun 03  |  South East Wales
Bus crash inquest - jury out
19 Jan 04  |  Wales



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