Belt up: Parents and children rallied at Valla on Friday morning.
Belt up: Parents and children rallied at Valla on Friday morning. Ute Schulenberg

Valla parents fight for seatbelts

VALLA parents say the Federal Government must fast track legislation to put seatbelts on school buses.

On Friday they rallied to highlight an anomaly that sees seatbelts on coaches but none on local school buses, even though both travel the same treacherous stretch of the Pacific Highway between Macksville and Coffs Harbour, at speeds of 100km/h.

“The difference is the children travel this road ten times a week,” Tony Redmond said.

“Quite simply we would like to see our kids have the same level of protection that adults have on these main transport routes.

“Belts have been mandatory on coaches since 1995 after the horrific Clybucca and Grafton bus accidents. But nothing has been done with school buses.”

The parents have now joined the state-wide action group Belt Up for Safety (BUS), which has been lobbying the government since 2001.

Mother of two Diana McCarthy said it was all taking a very long time.

“Some people have seen their children finish school and start university,” she said.

“Clearly we need a new strategy to get a response – we don’t want legislation to be introduced in the wake of a tragedy.”

Jesse Vincent-Ellis, 12, admitted things got pretty wild on the bus sometimes.

“There are always lots of kids out of their seats, running around – the driver often tells us to sit down,” Jesse said.

Organiser Simon Portus said other country towns were also lobbying for change.

“There is now a Facebook site where people can network and help build the protest momentum.”

The Advocate is awaiting responses from State and federal transport ministers.

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