Jakarta bans students from driving to school

Traffic in Indonesia
PHOTO: The Straits Times

Public school students are no longer allowed to bring cars and motorcycles to school.

A letter issued by Education Agency head Arie Budhiman on Aug. 25 prohibits elementary, junior high, senior high and vocational school students from driving motor vehicles to school.

The policy, Arie said, was aimed at preventing traffic violations and accidents caused by reckless underage driving.

Data from the Jakarta Police show that of 226,645 traffic accidents reported in 2011-2012, almost 700 involved underage drivers.

"We noticed that many students drive motor vehicles to school despite being underage. This is illegal as well as dangerous," Arie told The Jakarta Post at City Hall on Wednesday.

According to Law No. 22/2009 on traffic and land transportation, the minimum age to acquire a drivers' license is 17 years, both for class A licenses for cars and class C licenses for motorcycles. However, it is common for students without licenses to drive to school.

The city administration was, moreover, concerned about the other negative effects of students bringing their own vehicles to school, Arie added.

"Students who bring their own vehicles tend to stay late after school to hang out with their friends. Those who bring motorcycles are also often involved in illegal street racing," he said.

Arie went on that students were encouraged to travel using public transportation instead, in order to help minimise traffic congestion in Jakarta. The city administration will also co-operate with cycling community Bike2Work to establish a Bike2School programme for students.

The city administration, he said, was also coordinating with the Jakarta Traffic Police to increase supervision of underage students driving motor vehicles in the morning.

A teacher and a security guard would standby at school gates each morning to check on students, Arie said, with any arriving at the wheel of motor vehicles to be refused entry.

Arie said that he had sent copies of the letter to all public schools in the city. He said that he had also sent the letters to sub-agencies, which are tasked with forwarding the letter to all private schools in their respective areas.

Separately, the principal of Pasar Minggu public senior high school SMA 28 in South Jakarta, Endang Sri Hartini, said that although her students had initially opposed the regulation, they had eventually obeyed and begun leaving their vehicles at home. Endang said that the school had announced the new regulation during Monday's morning flag ceremony, and had also informed parents by distributing copies of the letter.

"At first, the students questioned the regulation; the head of the student council even came to my office. They finally understood after I explained why the ban was important," Endang told the Post over the phone on Wednesday.

She said that normally, dozens of students would drive their own vehicles to school, while by Wednesday, only two students had continued to do so.

"If any students continue to bring motor vehicles, we will call their parents," Endang said.

However, many students remain unhappy at the ban. Aditya, an 11th grader at East Jakarta's Jatinegara public senior high school SMA 54, said that using public transportation increased the time it took him to get to school. Aditya, who lives several kilometers from his school in Cipinang, said that he usually commuted by motorcycle.

"Now I go to school by angkot [public minivan] or Transjakarta. If I'm in a hurry, my parents will drop me off," he said.