China sets out school bus law after deadly crashes

A primary school security personnel checks the number of pupils on a school bus in Zouping county, China's Shandong province, 17 November 2011
Image caption A series of fatal school bus accidents has sparked public outcry over safety

China's cabinet has issued new rules governing school bus safety in the wake of a series of deadly crashes that sparked public anger.

The regulations set out specifications for school buses and punishments for offences such as overloading.

However transport for kindergarten pupils and high school students is not covered under the rules.

On Monday three pupils were killed in a school bus crash in southern Guangdong province.

The crash in Yangchun city on Monday evening involved the school bus and a truck.

State news agency Xinhua said the bus, which was licensed to carry 11 people, was overloaded - carrying 19 people, including 17 children, a driver and a teacher.

A spokesperson for China's State Council Legislative Affairs Office said the new rules excluded kindergarten children due to the "immense risk" of children below the age of six travelling in groups.

Local governments are asked to ensure pupils can attend kindergartens near their homes, the spokesperson said in a written statement.

The regulation requires existing school buses and their drivers to apply for licences within 90 days, but individual provincial governments can set their own deadlines for vehicle compliance.

On China's micro-blogging sites, some users praised the regulation for providing protection to school children, but others criticised the government for shifting responsibility by excluding kindergarten children.

Businessmen, however, are already speculating about a major boost for China's motor industry.

Sales of new school buses in China over the last two months reached 730m yuan ($115.7m; £72.7m) and were expected to grow further, says Guangzhou's Nanfang Daily.

School bus safety emerged as an issue in November 2011 following a crash in Gansu province that left 18 young children and two adults dead.

The bus had just nine seats, yet had 64 people crammed on board when it collided with a truck.

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