SAFETY campaigners including Nullawarre parent Sue Blake have welcomed a NSW parliamentary report calling for all rural school buses in that state to be fitted with seatbelts in the next 10 years.
Mrs Blake, along with veteran Melbourne-based campaigner Leon Hain, told The Standard yesterday it was now up to Victoria to follow the lead.
They will send letters this week to Premier Ted Baillieu and Transport Minister Terry Mulder urging them to get rid of old vehicles and make sure all buses on the road have seatbelts.
Nullawarre and District Primary School council will also write to Mr Mulder and Warrnambool Bus Lines seeking a bus fitted with belts for the school’s daily pick-up run.
In November 2009 two children, including Mrs Blake’s daughter Emily, were badly injured, along with the bus driver, when the vehicle collided with a tip-truck.
The bus did not have seatbelts and schoolchildren were flung around the vehicle by the impact.
“We want Victoria to follow in the NSW footsteps,” Mrs Blake said.
Mr Hain said he sent an email to Mr Baillieu’s office yesterday seeking an urgent meeting on the issue.
“School kids are entitled to the same degree of safety as adults,” Mr Hain said.
“I’ll also write to Canberra seeking restoration of $30 million subsidies for retrofitting older buses.”
Mrs Blake urged south-west community members to show their support through the Belt Up For Safety campaign by writing to their local MPs.
“It’s ludicrous there are laws we have to restrain our dogs in vehicles, but not for children on buses,” she said.
“How stupid is that?”
Warrnambool bus operator Steven Lucas, who is past president of the Bus Industry Confederation, said operators would be happy to retrofit all suitable vehicles if mandated and financed by the government.
But he said statistics showed the majority of fatalities in bus crashes happened outside the bus with pedestrians, cyclists and occupants of other vehicles.
“Nationally about five people a year are killed on buses,” he said.