An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.
AT LONG LAST, seatbelts on school buses may be getting close to reality.
The B.C. Liberals have introduced a private member’s bill that all school buses built in 2021 or later be equipped with seatbelts.
It’s often said, quite accurately, that private member’s bills from Opposition members are rarely adopted. However, they can form the basis for legislation from the government — such is the case with Kamloops-South Thompson MLA Todd Stone and his private member’s bill on vaping.
There’s a surprising amount of opposition to seatbelts on school buses despite the obvious logic of it. A committee of MPs decided earlier this year not to call for seatbelts, though it did decide to study it further.
It’s been studied to death. Under a new federal law, highway buses will be required to have seatbelts beginning in September of next year. Why is it different for school buses?
Those who oppose the belts claim school buses are built for safety and are just fine the way they are.
The real issue, it seems, is cost. Seatbelts would add thousands of dollars to the cost of each school bus.
But the death toll mounts. Transport Canada stats show there have been 6,700 injuries and 19 deaths in school buses between 1999 and 2016.
A petition in B.C. demanding seat belts in school buses has gathered 124,000 signatures.
As he introduced his private member’s bill this week, MLA Laurie Throness drew attention to a YouTube video that shows what happens inside a school bus when it rolls over.
To quote from Throness: “Within a second, dozens of children are thrown from their seats into a mass of tangled bodies, piled up against one wall of the bus.”
Time we did something about that.
Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and newspaper editor. He writes five commentaries a week for CFJC Today, publishes the ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.