Bush schools belt up

A staged roll-out of seat belts on Victoria’s regional school buses is imminent

Bush schools belt up
Bush schools belt up

July 12, 2013

Victoria’s regional school bus fleet could soon be fitted with seat belts in a proposed roll out based on the level of ‘risk’ on particular school bus routes.

Public Transport Minister Terry Mulder says new and replacement dedicated free school buses would be fitted with seatbelts, building on recent improvements already made to the safety of school buses across Victoria.

A report requested by the Victorian Government and commissioned by Public Transport Victoria (PTV) has looked into the installation of seat belts on contracted regional and rural dedicated free school buses.

The report examines the issues around installing seatbelts on school buses and identifies potential high, medium and low risk routes that could inform a staged roll-out of seatbelts.

"There are nearly 1,500 dedicated free school bus routes in rural and regional Victoria," says Mulder.

"A lot of work has been carried out in recent years to improve the safety of our school buses in regional Victoria."

Earlier investigations identified that students were at most risk when getting on and off buses and around buses. Mulder says improvements have already been made in key areas.

"We have successfully installed safety fences and student marshalling areas around school bus pick-up and drop-off points," he says.

"We made improvements to visibility, widened road shoulders so buses can stop clear of other traffic, and delivered an education campaign – Stay Safe Around the Bus Stop. All of these have been successful in the prevention of accidents near school buses.

"I have asked PTV to carefully consider the findings of the new report and identify implementation options in the coming months."

Mulder says it is too early to identify specific routes or outline an implementation plan.

He adds more detailed work will need to be undertaken in the coming months, including examining current safety regulations and policies, such as the requirement for children under seven to use a booster seat, and how this could be addressed.

Bus manufacturers and operators will also need to be consulted.

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