All school buses will be required to be painted yellow with institution names written in black and have other signage as may be prescribed, in a wide range of changes aimed at enhancing safety.
The new regulations are contained in the Traffic (Amendment) Bill 2016, passed in the National Assembly on Wednesday and is awaiting presidential assent.
According to the Bill, a motor vehicle designated to transport children to or from school, or for any non-school related activity, when they are in a group, shall be fitted with safety belts designed to be used by children.
The speed limit of all vehicles approaching learning institutions has been fixed at 50km per hour. School buses will be barred from operating between 10pm and 5am.
If okayed, the Bill sponsored by Laisamis MP Joseph Lekuton, will safeguard the lives of pupils who sometimes find themselves in the hands of rogue drivers.
Other vehicles that regularly transport school children but are not school buses are, however, exempted from the stringent rules but will be required to adhere to traffic rules.
Any person who contravenes the new provisions commits an offence and shall be liable to a fine not exceeding Sh30,000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding two months, or both.
“A person who being the registered owner or driver of a vehicle used for transporting children, who authorises or permits the use of a vehicle used for transporting children or is negligent to prevent contravention with this Act commits an offence and shall be liable to a fine not exceeding thirty thousand shillings or imprisonment for a term not exceeding two months, or to both,” reads the Bill.
The Bill prescribes that a police officer shall serve upon the person driving or in charge of a vehicle and who commits an offence under the Act, with a police notification of traffic offence.
“The police notification shall require the person to attend the court to answer such charge as may be preferred within 48 hours of service of the notification.”
According to information by the National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) school bus safety rules, school driver recruitment should involve the Parents Teachers Association representation and the school administration due to the important responsibility that is entrusted those persons.
The NTSA rules also stipulate that the selection and training of school drivers should be rigorous and include retraining and regular re-evaluation to ascertain alertness, consistency and proficiency to avoid putting the lives of pupils and students at risk.
School bus drivers should also successfully complete a written or oral test covering driver duties, bus operating procedures, traffic and school bus regulations, road emergency and crash related procedures such as First Aid, basic appreciation of the development stages and needs of pre-school and school age child supervision, responsibilities and transportation of passengers with special needs.