Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed in safety call after 47 hurt in school bus crash

Police blamed driver inattention, speeding and tailgating for a crash involving two school buses and a public bus, after an initial investigation.
Emergency services attended to 47 people, many of them children, after Thursday morning’s accident. Courtesy Abu Dhabi Police
Emergency services attended to 47 people, many of them children, after Thursday morning’s accident. Courtesy Abu Dhabi Police

ABU DHABI // Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed has emphasised the importance of school transport safety after a crash involving two school buses left 47 injured, many of them children.

“The safety of our students, Emirati and expats, is a matter of utmost importance, especially when it comes to their transport in school buses,” said Sheikh Mohammed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces.

“The relevant authorities are required to put in place an efficient mechanism to ensure the safety and security of schoolchildren and motorists, and prevent the recurrence of such unfortunate incidents.”

Sheikh Mohammed checked on the condition of pupils, wishing them a speedy recovery and return to school.

Fourteen of the injured were treated for minor injuries at the scene of the crash, which took place on Thursday morning on Al Khaleej Al Arabi Street after the Mussaffah Bridge and involved two school buses and a public transport bus.

The others injured were taken to Mafraq Hospital and 25 were released by evening, said Brig Ali Al Dhaheri, director general of Abu Dhabi Police central operations.

Two children were admitted in critical condition but were stable by the afternoon.

The school buses were operated by Al Dhafra Private School and Belvedere British School in Mohammed bin Zayed City.

School officials could not be reached for comment on Thursday.

Abu Dhabi Education Council said it was working with police during the investigation and that a senior management team was at Mafraq Hospital to comfort parents and ensure the students’ care.

Speaking outside the hospital, Abbas Shibeka, from Sudan, said his sons Ali, 4, and Mohammed, 11, who attend Belvedere, were injured. Ali suffered minor injuries and was discharged, but Mohammed’s leg was fractured in the crash and he was still being treated.

“Firstly, we are now taking care of our children’s treatment and we didn’t ask the kids about what happened and how it happened,” said Mr Shibeka.

They got on the bus at 6.10am, and about an hour later he received a call from the bus supervisor informing him about the crash. He praised school management for supporting the children and parents, but said he had previously been concerned about school bus safety.

“Bus drivers need to maintain a proper distance and drive slowly,” he said.

After an initial investigation, police said driver inattention, speeding and tailgating were to blame for the crash.

Brig Al Dhaheri urged school bus drivers to abide by traffic laws and to be cautious during peak traffic hours, particularly in mornings when there is fog and low visibility.

In February last year, tough regulations came into force for Abu Dhabi’s school buses that included mandatory seat belts, medical tests for drivers and training courses on pupil safety.

The School Transport Executive Committee required bus drivers and attendants to be trained in defensive driving, traffic safety, daily bus inspection, and safe boarding and disembarking.

Thomas Edelmann, founder of Road Safety UAE, said speeding, not keeping a safe distance between vehicles and improperly changing lanes were common driving infractions seen in the UAE.

“School bus drivers and their employers have to realise they are responsible for their passengers’ safety and that other road users,” he said. “Their employers are responsible in providing a proper training curriculum, coupled with regular updates and refresher courses.”

Published: September 29, 2016 04:00 AM


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