BUS stands to deliver belts
“WE want our kids to have the same protection as adults when they travel to school on high-risk routes – like the horror stretch of the Pacific Highway between Valla and Coffs Harbour.”
That was the simple message delivered by Valla parent Dr Tony Redmond when he addressed the Belt Up for Safety (BUS) Rally in Bellingen yesterday.
“In Western Australia every school bus has seatbelts, and in every state except NSW, standing on school buses is banned,” he said.
“NSW is lagging behind every other state when it comes to protecting our kids.
“We want both Federal and State governments to take action now to address this inequity.”
Also addressing the rally was interim chair of the Pacific Highway Taskforce, Bellingen Shire Mayor, Mark Troy.
“Seat belts save lives and reduce injury, that’s an indisputable fact – countless lives have been saved since 1972 when seat belts became mandatory in cars,” Cr Troy said.
“Only the most irresponsible would allow a child to travel in a car or other private vehicle without a seat belt and yet we place our school children on a bus where they will stand or sit unrestrained.”
Cr Troy said, while all roads present a risk, the single-lane undivided Pacific Highway ranks in the extreme-risk category.
“We are reminded all too often of the tragic losses and unimaginable injury attributed to travelling on parts of the Pacific Highway – it and the high-speed Waterfall Way are both school bus routes.”
The rally is calling for the Federal Government to close the legal loophole that puts seatbelts on coaches but not on school buses.
They also want the NSW government to change the policy that allows children to stand on buses travelling at speeds greater than 80kmh plus set $8 million aside to ensure seatbelts are fitted to those buses travelling on the most dangerous rural routes by January 2012.
Statements from the three major NSW political parties were read out at the rally – the Greens were the only ones saying they would make seatbelts mandatory.