School bus seatbelts spur debate

Concerns have surfaced about the suitability of phasing in seatbelts on regional and rural NSW school buses

School bus seatbelts spur debate
School bus seatbelts spur debate

By Sean Muir |
March 22, 2012

Concerns have surfaced about the suitability of phasing in seatbelts on regional and rural NSW school buses, as a safety committee prepares its recommendations
for State Government.

The School Bus Safety Community Advisory Committee, which was set up last year to examine the safe transportation of rural and regional NSW children, is set to present recommendations to State Government in April.

BusNSW Executive Director Darryl Mellish, who is a member of the safety committee,
says he is concerned about a drive for seatbelts on school buses, as there are
more pertinent
safety issues to be considered.

"If a government has money to spend on student safety, the funds should be allocated to where it would do the most good to prevent an accident, which is generally outside the bus," he says.

Mellish says he is pleased with the
committee's work but wants more community debate on school bus safety.

says safety funding could be better spent on student and parent education, driver training, improved roads, and pull-over areas.

"It is the risk of a serious school bus accident without seat belts that is driving the seat belt debate in NSW," he says.

"The other side of the coin is that the community is better off if the accident is prevented in the first place - but this is apparently lower priority for the advocates of seat belts as the first step."

Mellish says although school buses are already safer than cars, many parents believe if cars have seatbelts buses should too.

He says this public perception has left some bus operators feeling like ‘the meat in the sandwich’.

"On the one hand the experts say if you have money you put it where it does most good, but on the other hand the operators want what their customers and passengers want, and if that is seatbelts and if they are properly done than they want to satisfy their customers."

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