A viral video clip circulating the Internet that showed a child falling out of the back of a school bus on Thursday afternoon has caused a public outcry, with demands for governmental action on child safety.
In Banciao (板橋), New Taipei City (新北市), on Thursday, a school bus transporting seven or eight children to a daycare center was captured on a dashboard camera. The video shows the bus’ rear door popping open and a child falling to the ground as the bus turned a corner. Fortunately, the child landed on his backpack and was unharmed, but the driver drove on without realizing the child had fallen out.
The video was first posted online by the motorist driving behind the bus whose dashboard camera captured the event, and the clip was picked up by the media.
A spokesperson for the daycare center, located on Sanmin Road in Banciao, said on Thursday that while a member of the daycare center usually accompanied the driver, the staff member on duty on Thursday had not informed the center that she was taking the day off.
The incident might have been caused by the child being impatient to get off the bus as it neared the daycare center, the spokesperson said, adding that the child might have accidentally hit the door and caused it to open.
When asked by reporters whether the bus had safety locks, the spokesperson said: “Normally there are safety locks, but we are asking the bus companies to -double-check that after the incident.”
Concerned over the incident, the Ching-chuan Child Safety Foundation yesterday called on the government to enact preventive measures to ensure the safety of children rather than only fining violators after the fact.
Saying that the driver of the bus drove nearly 300m before finally realizing a child had fallen out, Ching-chuan Child Safety Foundation chief executive Lin Yue-chin (林月琴) said the incident was incredible, adding that it was equally astounding that the daycare center would blame the child for the accident.
The bus was a vehicle designated by the Ministry of Transportation and Communications for the exclusive purpose of transporting children under the age of seven, Lin said, adding that the child who fell off the bus was an elementary-school student who should not even have been in the bus in the first place.
If the bus had been involved in a car accident, there would have been many casualties, Lin said.
Lin also said that the Protection of Children and Youths Welfare and Rights Act (兒童及少年福利與權益保障法), amended in November last year, stipulates that school bus doors should have a system that sounds an alarm if the door is opened.
That the driver could drive 300m before discovering a child had fallen, only realizing what had happened after being alerted by people on the street, showed that there were no such mechanisms on the bus, she said.
No one can guarantee the next child who is in a similar situation would be so lucky, Lin said, urging the government to step up inspections of safety measures at child-care facilities.
According to Article 30 of the Act Governing Punishments for Violations of Road Traffic Regulations (道路交通管理處罰條例), the improper transport of passengers or freight causing evident danger in the act of driving is punishable by a fine of between NT$3,000 (US$101) and NT$9,000, police said, adding that if such conduct led to injuries, the violators driver’s license can be suspended for a year, and the violator’s driving license could be revoked if the action caused fatalities.