Why Transport Canada Says We Don't Need Seat belts on School Buses
August 28, 2018, Kitchener, Ontario
Posted by: Robert Deutschmann, Personal Injury Lawyer
The federal agency Transport Canada says that Canada’s school buses have a good safety record and on that basis, they have been exempted from the new directive that will see seatbelts on medium and large highway buses in Canada beginning in September 2020. Many school children in Canada travel on school buses on highways, including on the 400 series of highways, regularly on their way too and from school daily.
According to Transport Canada Canadian school buses have adequate safety measure to protect children in the event of a crash including compartmentalization – high caked padded and closely spaced seats. Transport Canada argues that lap seats belts would make children less safe in a crash.
Advocates of the current system cite the statistics that between 2003-2012 there were 3,684 injuries and 11 deaths in crashes on school buses in contrast with 1.3 million injuries and more than 22,000 deaths in all other vehicles. Children are 16 times safer riding a school bus than when they are in the family car.
The statistics show that school buses are safe, they get into fewer accidents than cars do, and when they are in an accident the rate of injuries is far less and in a car. Canada invests a great deal of time and money enforcing a myriad of regulations and educating drivers about school buses. Statistics also show that children are in far more danger when they are loading and off-loading school buses.
Buses are highly visible with bright yellow being the North American wide standard colour. Rules are clear for drivers that buses may not passed when stopped, and penalties for offenders are harsh.
When buses do crash they have physics and design on their side. The buses sit very high and generally crash below the floor line when they ae in a collision. Kids are protected by the seats in front and behind them in a crash. The seats are closely spaced to provide cushioning of impacts. These safety measures are not effective in a roll over or from side impact.
Designers of the buses argue that installation of seatbelts require stiffer seat backs in order to support the should straps. Once the seats are stiffened the ‘compartmentalization’ effect of the existing design is no longer effective. Someone would also have to ensure that the children are wearing the belts properly and at all times, and that they are fitted to varied size of children on school buses (many of whom are under 4 years old and still in booster seats in the family cars).
So it appears there will be no change in our system, for now.
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