LONG-time bus safety campaigner Leon Hain believes it will take a major tragedy before there are tighter seatbelt rules for buses.
Mr Hain will work with Nullawarre mother Sue Blake, who is campaigning for an urgent review by the state government into school bus safety.
Mrs Blake’s daughter Emily was severely injured in a bus crash in 2009. Mr Hain said comments made by Transport Minister Terry Mulder that bus travel was the safest form of road passenger transport available were hogwash.
“It’s the same as what has been hashed out for the last 10 years,” he said.
“It’s not on their list of priorities. If there is a school bus carrying 50 children with a high number of casualties, the next day they will do everything they can.
“I cannot understand it. All school buses should have the same safety standards as adult buses. No other passengers are allowed in vehicles travelling at high speeds without wearing a seatbelt.
“At the moment I think we have to wait for a tragedy.”
On Friday, Mr Mulder said Victoria’s school buses had an excellent safety record.
“It’s a lot safer for students to travel by train or bus than by car,” he said.
“An Australian Transport Council report found not just that the compulsory introduction of seatbelts on buses would be very expensive, but would not result in any marked reduction in the national road toll.
“Occasional school bus safety issues are, usually, being hit by other vehicles after leaving the bus. That’s why there are flashing warning lights on school buses.
“Through Public Transport Victoria, the Coalition government funds the replacement of about 100 school buses each year. Victoria does not require the provision of seatbelts on school buses.”
Last week Mrs Blake said it was “absolutely unacceptable” that buses built before 1995, like the one Emily was travelling on, were exempt from Australian Design Rules (ADR) standards on road safety.
She blames the Victorian government for not providing her daughter, then aged 10, with protective safety standards, and wants unsafe vehicles built before 1995 taken off the road.
To support Mrs Blake’s campaign, visit the Belt Up For Safety Facebook page, Susan Blake’s Facebook page or email Sue at firstname.lastname@example.org