This year on July 17, a 4-year-old girl died in a school bus at a daycare center in Dongducheon, Gyeonggi Province, where the temperature inside the car soared to 47 degrees Celsius. Also, the similar accidents occurred in other cities.
Recently, after frequent accidents involving children on school buses, local governments have stepped up to prevent these accidents. They have suggested to install a ‘Sleeping Child Check Device’ in all school cars. And, they also introduced safety belts, detection sensors, and house notification services on a trial basis.
In fact, this system has already been implemented in the Arab Emirates. In 2015, a transportation company installed the device in 1,600 school buses after a four-year-old child died in a bus. Other countries, such as the United States and Canada, also have the system.
There are three typical ways to identify sleeping children, using IT technology. The first Bell method is a system in which a light beam is turned off only when the vehicle is switched off and the rear seat belt is pressed. A second wireless communication device (NFC) method requires that NFC devices inside and outside of a vehicles be tagged with a smartphone so that a smartphone application alarm sounds can be disarmed. Finally, Beacon, a system that attaches an NFC device to a child’s school bag, transmits information to their parents’ smartphones when they approach the 10-meter radius of a school car.
In Korea, the Ministry of Health and Welfare pushed to revise related laws to make it mandatory to install a sleeping child identification system. The first law failed, but the bill was passed by the National Assembly plenary session.
This equipment is now being installed in each city. For example, Cheongju City installed a sleeping device on the school bus in a wholesale way. The system will be installed in 621 school buses that serve 729 daycare centers by the end of the year.
This monitor activates warning lights when children enter the bus and is turned on when the bus ignition turns off. The driver must go to the back of the bus and press a button on the monitor. If they fail to do so, an alarm will sound in order to remind the driver to check for any children left on the bus.
The national Korean government said it will invest 6.9 billion won to support the installation. It will provide 200,000 won per car and additional costs will be provided by each city. However, it is most important for teachers and bus drivers to fulfill their individual roles and responsibilities, and not just trust these devices.