Kathmandu: Earlier this week, traffic police found that some school bus drivers were handling the steering wheel under the influence of alcohol.
In the surprise checking, police found five school bus drivers were under the influence. Surprised and shocked, traffic police continued checking school buses early in the morning.
Since then, traffic police have already impounded 22 school buses whose drivers were under the influence, according to the Kathmandu Valley Traffic Police Office.
“As per the ‘zero tolerance’ policy, traffic police are checking school buses every morning. We do not tolerate such acts of driving school buses under the influence of alcohol,” said Senior Superintendent of Police Rajendra Prasad Bhatta, who is the spokesperson for the Kathmandu Traffic Police Office.
According to him, drivers, who are caught, claimed they consumed alcohol a day earlier. “We have a ‘zero tolerance’ policy against drink driving. We will continue impounding vehicles driven by drivers under influence,” said Bhatta.
As per the rule, drunk drivers are slapped a fine of Rs Rs1,000, and must attend a road safety class of one and a half hours.
When asked if traffic police leave the school bus just by handing over a fine receipt to drivers, Bhatta said, “No! The traffic police on the duty calls the school administration to send another driver to take kids to school”, adding that the additional administrative action will be in the hands of the school itself.
According to the Traffic Police Office, it is spreading awareness against drinking and driving, and is also encouraging people to follow traffic rules. “This campaign is a continuation of ‘zero tolerance’ against drinking and driving,” said Bhatta.
“The campaign was launched following complaints that drivers were drunk driving school buses. Earlier, traffic police never checked school and college buses as we did not even imagine such situations,” he said.
In the last 20 days, at least 95 school bus drivers also were penalized for violating traffic rules.
“This is a right step by the traffic police. The safety of children is the must,” according to RB Katuwal, general secretary of Private and Boarding Schools’ Organization Nepal (PABSON). “We have also been discussing with traffic police for collaboration for checking buses.”
According to him, schools have immediately fired drivers after traffic police caught them handling steering wheels under influence. “We must ensure the safety of school children. And such an act is not forgivable,” he added.
This is the first time traffic police have started checking school buses since the campaign against drunk driving started some 11 years ago in 2011.
In the meantime, traffic police on Monday also booked 118 students on the charge of violating traffic rules. As many as 61 students did not have driving licenses, according to traffic police. Likewise, 39 students did not have a vehicle registration book. They [students] were going to their campuses on motorcycles.