Last week, officers form the Guardia Civil traffic department, assisted by colleagues from the Local Police, have been carrying out safety checks on vehicles carrying some of the most vulnerable road users, school buses.
One of the most notable findings was a driver of a school buss, carrying children, who tested positive for cocaine.
On average, school buses in Spain carry 230,000 students to and from school every day. Although statistically there are considerably less incidents involving school buses than almost any other form of transport, they still pose a significant risk if the rules are not followed and safety systems ignored.
The inspections cover a variety of different elements, including ensuring that all documentation, including insurance for example, are up to date, that the driver is authorised and safe to drive the vehicles, and that the vehicles themselves are of an acceptably high standard, not just having satisfied the mandatory testing, but that the systems are fully functional.
Seatbelts are crucial for the safe carriage of passengers in vehicles. Whereas no new bus will be authorised if it doesn´t have seatbelts fitted, there are still a number of older vehicles on the roads in which seatbelts were never installed and are still allowed in service. In fact, the law came into force in 2007 that ensured seatbelts are fitted in all new vehicles, and yet, only around 60% of the buses in service actually have them fitted due to them entering service before that time. The use of seatbelts in these vehicles reduce fatal injuries by 90% in the event of a frontal collision or rollover because, when properly fastened, they prevent the projection of passenger and reduces impact injuries to the abdomen and legs.
In 2015, school transport vehicles were involved in 27 incidents. Fourteen of them occurred on intercity roads and thirteen on urban roads. In these incidents there were no deaths, although nine occupants were injured. The most common contributing factors to these incidents were distractions or inappropriate speed by at least one of the vehicles involved.