August 28th, 2007 06:55 EST
China's school buses set for New standards
The Chinese authorities are cracking down on dilapidated school buses to combat a rising death toll among the nation's schoolchildren.
New standards set by the Standardization Administration require all children traveling on school buses to be seated and they ban the use of substandard vehicles for carrying children from Sept. 1.
They also stipulate that every child on a school bus must wear a safety belt and seats by aisles must be equipped with armrests.
Children, students or their parents are not encouraged to stand in the bus, according to the standards.
The standards also require windows to have at least 50 percent transparency for visible light and ban any reflective materials being stuck on windows.
The standards require special signs to be posted at the outside of each school bus, so that they can be easily identified.
School buses are defined as ones that carry no less than five children, adolescents or their parents to and from kindergartens, primary schools or middle schools.
In November last year, 39 children were injured after a private bus carrying about 50 students veered off a bridge in northeastern Heilongjiang province.
Six children and a driver died when a kindergarten bus overturned into a roadside ditch in southeast Hunan province in January this year.
A national inspection showed that primary and middle schools in rural areas often used discarded vehicles, lorries or even tractors as shuttle buses for students.
According to the Ministry of Public Security, the death toll from school bus accidents in the first quarter of 2007 rose by 8.2 percent from the same period of last year, although the actual figure was not stated.