Press Release
June 15, 2006

All school buses should be equipped with seatbelts and driven by competent drivers

Senator Manny Villar, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Public Order, expressed concern that there are still dilapidated and substandard school buses shuttling students to and from school, and exposing them to unnecessary risks or danger.

"Students are back to school again. Despite repeated calls of parents and concerned citizens over the rundown condition of school buses, owners and operators of such vehicles still seem to get away with it. School owners and administrators should be stricter when they accredit school buses," says Villar.

To ensure the safety of children or students riding school buses, Villar Senate Bill 662 or the 'School Bus Safety Act' to prescribe safety standards for school buses.

"We should not let any Tom, Dick or Harry who has a jeepney, van or bus to just operate a transport service shuttling students to and from their schools. More often than not, these vehicles are not equipped with safety devices. Thus, you can see schoolchildren hopping up and down on their seats or sticking out their hands or even heads while the vehicle is moving," cites Villar.

Villar further cites, "There should be stricter criteria that school bus operators and drivers should adhere to. School buses should be child-friendly. Drivers of school buses should also have special qualifications and there should also be a qualified person inside the bus to mind the children during the trip."

Villar proposes on his bill proficiency standards for school bus drivers and the installation of seat belts plus other safety devices in all school buses. "Seatbelts should be a must as well as iron bars on the window. Schools should properly accredit school buses and I urge parents to be more selective of the buses that they will hire for their children," adds Villar.

Based on Villar's bill, "No school bus should be allowed to acquire, maintain and renew registration unless it is equipped with the necessary seat belts. Owners of school buses which are not currently equipped with seat belts shall be given a period of six months to install the necessary seat belts in their school buses."

The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) is now cracking down on poorly maintained public buses such as those with dirty interiors among others. According to Villar, similar strictness should also be applied to school buses which are transporting children or minors.

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