Federal Government Makes Seat belts Mandatory on Highway Buses

August 14, 2018, Kitchener, Ontario

Posted by: Robert Deutschmann, Personal Injury Lawyer

Buckling up when you get into your car is second nature. Following several high-profile accidents with highway bus / coaches in the last few years, the federal government has enacted new regulations making seatbelts mandatory as of September 1, 2020.

Marc Garneau, Minister of Transport announced last month that “We've all heard the message to buckle up over the years, and I think it's time we brought this approach to highway buses too. By having seatbelts on highway buses, we can help reduce injuries in severe collisions, such as rollovers, and improve safety for everyone.”

What this means is that you will see seatbelts installed on large and medium sized buses that travel our highways. Smaller buses already have lap and shoulder belts. School buses remain exempt from the regulations for a variety of reasons. They are designed with child safety in mind and have excellent safety records. There is no practical reason though that seatbelts could not be placed on school buses as well.

The busing industry has an impressive safety record in Canada with more than 60 million passenger trips and 10 billion kilometres a year travelled there are relatively few injuries and fatalities on the highways. However, when rollovers do occur they are serious and often result in the ejection of travellers from the vehicle. Wearing a seatbelt during these rare occasions can save lives and reduce serious injury.

Advocates of the seatbelt regulations believe that they are long overdue, with generations of people now accustomed to wearing them. Making the basic safety feature available to passengers is a big step in the right direction and may prevent many injuries that occur during sudden stops or swerves on highways when people fly forward and strike the seat ahead of them.

Those opposed to the regulations suggest that the seatbelts may not improve the safety of bus travel. Minor collisions aren’t as jarring for bus passengers as they are for car passengers due to the mass of the busses. They also question whether passengers will actually wear the seatbelts. They cite a recent Ontario Superior Court of Justice decision Stewart v. Suoro Summer Township in which the court held that it was not the taxi driver’s duty of care to make sure impaired passengers were wearing a seatbelt. This would logically be extended to relieve the bus drivers and companies from requiring seatbelt use within the bus.

Posted under Accident Benefit News, Automobile Accident Benefits, Car Accidents

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