Stand up for seatbelts on buses

LOCAL parents campaigning for seatbelts on school buses are hoping a rally held in Ulladulla yesterday will help carry their message to Macquarie Street.

And ideally onto 2011’s State government election agenda.

Two incidents this week on the Coffs Coast, one of which resulted in Boambee student Chanel Burow suffering a broken arm, have highlighted the issue yet again locally.

Valla parent Theo Chang said solving the matter however required political will at both state and federal government levels.

“The NSW government legislation for school buses allows three children per seat plus children to stand in bus aisles – even on the most dangerous bus routes,” Mr Chang said.

“But the Federal Government’s ‘Seatbelts for Kids’ funding only applies to seatbelts.

“Seatbelts would mean less children on each bus and there are no funds to cover the cost of putting extra buses onto routes to carry the children.”

He said the ‘Seatbelts for Kids’ funding, which will run until September next year, allowed $25,000 per bus to retrofit seatbelts however the older buses that operate on the country routes were never designed to take seatbelts.

“Many have the same fatal flaws the buses in the Kempsey and Grafton crashes had – flimsy floors and low seats that rip out of the floors on impact.”

Campaigners say legislation is needed to force bus companies to comply with Australian Design Rule 68, which requires long distance coaches to have seatbelts but not local buses.

Belt Up for Safety (BUS) action group member Glenda Staniford said a Transport NSW employee told her the NSW government had no plans now or in the future to fit seat belts to school buses.

“The government needs to know parents are sick of being fobbed off,” Mrs Staniford said.

“They give the impression of doing something when in reality it has no plans to act.”



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