Motorised wagons used by daycare centres and schools to move children between locations have been banned from the Dutch roads following last month’s tragedy in Oss, in which four children were killed.
Transport minister Cora van Nieuwenhuizen said on Monday evening she was banning the ‘stint’ following a preliminary report from transport ministry inspectors who are looking into the train crash.
Some 3,500 stints are thought to be used on the Dutch roads, most of which are leased from the maker. The inspectors say that if certain parts of the electric vehicles break down, the stint will either stop or the brakes will stop working, the AD reported on Tuesday.
In addition, the hand break is not strong enough to stop the vehicle moving. More than that, the AD said, the company which makes the stints has been putting bigger motors in the vehicles than those approved by the transport ministry.
Stints, which can carry up to 10 children, were approved for use on Dutch roads in 2011, despite criticism from two road safety groups. And there have been at least two other incidents in which stints stopped working on railway crossings, and several others in which the brakes failed, the AD said.
In one incident, the stint hit a closed garage door and one child was left with concussion, while in Haarlem a stint loaded with children hit an elderly man, the paper said.
Edwin Renzen, owner of Stint Urban Mobility, described the minister’s decision to withdraw the permit as ‘very bizarre‘.
‘She has no idea what sort of social impact this decision will have,’ he said. ‘Some 20,000 children are picked up in them every day and some courier companies only use stints,’ he said.
Several daycare groups had stopped using the stint after the fatal Oss crash. Now hundreds of others have had to find taxis and minibuses to move children to different locations.
‘It is impossible to calculate what the extra costs will be but safe transport has priority,’ said Rene Loman of the childcare umbrella group BK. ‘Taxis and extra leaders to walk with the children cost money.’
PostNL also uses stints to deliver post in some areas – it has 79 on its books – but said electric cargo bikes will be used instead. Food delivery firms and other courier services also use them, and they are particularly popular in cities.