A study by IIT Kharagpur’s civil engineering department has come up with suggestions to make pool cars used by school children safer.
Some of the recommendations are: parents should avoid unnecessary delay in handing over their children to pool car operators so the driver does not have to make up for lost time later, and running checks on fitness certificates of the vehicles.
The study draft also asks police to keep a record of the background of the operators and drivers.
The objective is to create a standard operating procedure (SOP) for pool car users and operators. The team from IIT Kharagpur is in the final stages of drafting the SOP for Kolkata police.
“We are working on guidelines for pool car operators, keeping in mind the concerns of parents,” Bhargab Maitra of the IIT’s civil engineering department said on Saturday. “If parents are convinced about pool cars, the congestion around schools will come down and so will emission from vehicles.”
Maitra was speaking at an interactive session on “Identifying city road users’ problems and precautionary measures to resolve them”, organised by the Consulting Engineers Association of India. In presence were senior officers of Kolkata police, transportation experts and urban road planners.
Around 3,000 pool cars operate everyday in Calcutta and its adjoining areas in North and South 24-Parganas and Howrah.
An operator needs to obtain a “pool car permit” from the transport department after meeting certain specifications and paying Rs 15,000 for a five-year period. They also need to pay the other taxes, including the annual road tax of Rs 16,000.
Almost all pool car operators had been idling for over two years when schools were shut due to the pandemic. “This is an unorganised sector in transportation where car owners decide on the number of students to be accommodated in each vehicle, the route and even the drivers,” said Sudip Dutta of the Pool Car Owners Welfare Association.
The proposed SOP dwells on this area while underlining that parents would have to be equally responsible and not leave everything either to the operators or the police. Every parent should keep a copy each of the driver’s licence, the vehicle’s fitness certificate and its insurance coverage while signing on the contract.
The operators in turn should inform the parents about changes in route and driver, whether a particular vehicle is carrying school kids in excess of the total number of seats, and contact numbers of the drivers.
“The police can play a significant role by keeping records of the pool car operators in their respective jurisdictions, the details of the operators, the number of cars that each of them owns, and the antecedence of drivers,” Maitra said.
• Do not delay the car
• Keep a copy of driver’s licence, vehicle’s fitness certificate and insurance papers
• In case of change from the usual route
• If there is a new driver
• Of the number of kids in the car
• Keep record of background of drivers and pool car operators