Image credits above and below: PEC students

Empowering Change in India: PEC Students Champion Safer School Zones with technical support of accredited SR4S Quality Reviewer

The following article is originally from the Hindustan Times

When it comes to road safety, significant deficiencies exist outside Chandigarh schools.

Using the iRAP Star Rating for Schools (SR4S) system, four students of Punjab Engineering College (PEC) have highlighted the road safety issues outside four city schools

Roads surrounding four schools – Government Model Senior Secondary School, Sector 21; St Stephen’s School, Sector 45; Ashiana Public School, Sector 46 and Government Model High School, Sector 42 – were chosen for this survey. Out of five stars, all four schools received ratings only between one and three stars.

The roads getting one star are high-risk with minimal safety features. These roads may lack basic infrastructure and are associated with a higher likelihood of severe accidents. Roads with two stars have improved safety features but still pose significant risks. Roads with three stars are moderately safe with standard safety features. However, improvements are still required to enhance the overall safety.

While the speed limit outside schools has been fixed at 25km/h by the UT administration, the students observed that one of the schools was situated on the main sector roads and a 60km/h speed limit was being followed here. Operating speed, around different schools, calculated by a speed gun was found to be 44km/h, 40km/h, 39km/h and 30 km/h, all above the speed limit. Speed management features were not present on the roads outside any of the schools.

The students also observed that two of the four schools had no school zone signs or warning boards. A school crossing supervisor was present only in one of the schools. Other features like intersection quality and crossing quality were also not found to be adequate.

The major project report has been prepared by Btech civil engineering students Raisel Nanda, Aryan Singh, Shivan Kumar Mishra and Aahan Kumar. The research was conducted under professor Umesh Sharma of the civil engineering department who is also director (projects) of Chandigarh Centre of Excellence in Road Safety established at PEC.

Sharma said that by taking four schools as a stepping stone, the students have found certain issues with the road safety features which can be taken forward. “The authorities should cover all schools of the city under a similar project and work out the safety ratings for all schools to fix shortcomings,” he added.

School staff steps in to manage traffic

Giving their side of the story, Ashiana Public School principal Monica Sharma said, “While there is some congestion on the roads in the morning and in the afternoon during the dispersal, the staff steps up and helps the school guards to manage the traffic and ensure the safety of the children.”

Principal of St Stephen’s School Barry Francis added that a minimum of 10 school staffers are deputed to manage the traffic from 8 am and 9 am and at the time of dispersal. “Our school staff is present right from the roundabout between Sectors 32, 33, 45 and 46 until the road leading up to the school. We try and ensure that the speed limit is also followed and the safety of our children is our primary concern and responsibility,” he said and suggested that the authorities can install features like speed breakers near the school to keep a check on speeding.

Speaking on the project, Harpreet Singh, an accredited quality reviewer of SR4S and city-based road safety expert said, “The onus is now on the authorities to get such surveys conducted for all the schools of the city. They have the budget for it, and installation of signages and speed-calming devices like rumble strips is underway. The minimum that authorities can do is install the 25km/h limit signages outside the schools. It is the right of the students and their parents for them to have safe roads outside their schools.”