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Van-tanker collision: Drivers were challaned multiple times previously, says police

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Press Trust of India New Delhi
The driver of the school van that was hit by a milk tanker, resulting in the death of a 7-year-old girl in northwest Delhi today, had been challaned by the city traffic police eight times under various offences.
According to the police, the man was driving the vehicle under the influence of alcohol with headphones plugged in his ears, adding that the driver of the milk tanker was also challaned on 17 previous occasions.
The police said the school van was also carrying children beyond capacity.
A Delhi government officer said the van, a 2002 model private vehicle, was running illegally. Its driver, Vijay Kumar, did not fulfill the various norms required for driving school vans, he said.
Kumar was also carrying a licence for driving private vehicles, the official said.
According to the rules, vans used for carrying school children must be equipped with devices like Global Positioning System (GPS) and speed governors for the safety of children. The drivers of such vehicles also require to have their licence and badge verified by the police.
"In this case, all these measures were absent since the van was a private vehicle and it was being used to carry school children," the officer said.
The officials also blamed parents for opting for cheaper van rides for ferrying their children to schools.
These vans charge less than the school buses, but these vehicles often flout safety norms by carrying beyond capacity, they said.
"Parents have to ensure that their children travel safely. But it is a question of money. Schools charge a high amount for providing transport facility which forces parents to look for cheaper options, therefore, relying on such school cabs," a police officer said.
"Such school vans put wooden benches inside vehicles and also make the children sit on CNG kits. These are recipes for disaster," he said.
According to the data shared by the police, 3,807 school cabs were prosecuted last year and this year (till April 25), 875 school cabs had been prosecuted.
The data said 586 school cabs were challaned for wrong parking last year and 103 were prosecuted for the offence till Aptil 15 this year.
As many as 151 vehicles were challaned for dangerous driving in 2017 and 48 were challaned till April 15 this year, it said.
The data also stated that 1,192 drivers were challaned for driving without seat belts last year and 253 drivers were challaned till April 15 this year.
Thirty drivers were challaned this year till April 15 for permit violations, while 153 were challaned for the same offence last year, it added.
In July last year, the transport department had carried out a drive against illegally running school vans in which over 750 vehicles were caught.
However, associations of school van drivers met Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal after which the drive was stopped and they were given time till January this year to fulfill all the criteria required for operating school vans.
The official claimed that despite the breather, most of the school vans and their drivers failed to fulfill the requisite norms.
He said the transport department was planning another drive against illegal school cabs after the board examinations.
Dependra Pathak, special commissioner of police (Traffic), said the traffic police had written to the education department in 2014 and 2016, requesting them to ensure that school students do not travel in such unauthorised vehicles. He said they would write to the department again and work out a concrete plan to confiscate such vehicles.
Another police officer suggested that the Delhi government take steps to ensure that the children can commute to their schools for free.
A member of the All India Parents Association (AIPA) agreed that the schools should reduce the exorbitant transportation fees and play a better role in ensuring that the children commute safely.

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First Published: Apr 26 2018 | 8:25 PM IST

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