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Humboldt Broncos tragedy may prompt new bus safety review

Last Updated Apr 18, 2018 at 1:40 pm PDT

(Source Twitter @HumboldtBroncos)

Surrey (NEWS 1130) – There’s fresh talk of making seatbelts mandatory on buses.

Fleetwood-Port Kells MP Ken Hardie says he’s preparing a motion that could lead to stronger transportation standards in the wake of the Humboldt Broncos tragedy that killed 16 people last week in Saskatchewan.

“Horrific beyond words. There are tens of thousands of people in buses every day. Top of mind with the parents is the safety of the kids on those buses, so it’s worth another look.”

He says liability concerns will be part of the study, since it may be difficult to force people to wear seatbelts on buses.

Hardie, who sits on a federal committee responsible for improving safety, says it’s not clear if having seatbelts on the bus involved in last week’s crash would have saved anyone and past reviews by Transport Canada have determined school buses are safe without them. However, he has extensive knowledge because this topic often came up when he worked at ICBC several years ago.

“It has been studied before, but the public don’t know that. It deserves another look, so that people will have fresh information,” he tells NEWS 1130. “We also know that, of course, things have changed since I was near to some of these studies in my days at ICBC, so it is time to take a fresh look at it. Inevitably, whenever there’s an incident like this, people will ask about safety belts, but they’ll also be unaware of the other safety measures that are designed into the various types of coaches that are being used.”

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“We need to improve public awareness of what is in place, but also have a good critical look at it to see where there are gaps that need to be filled.”

The Liberal MP adds he’s aware the Canada Safety Council has spent several years lobbying for seatbelts to be mandatory on all coach buses, but not school vans because they already have stronger standards.

“It comes up every time there’s an incident. I recall, in my days at ICBC, there were some very solid arguments against having seatbelts in buses, but seatbelts aren’t the only thing. Could we be dealing now with new generation airbags? Are there other measures that could work?”

Hardie hopes to table a motion before the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities soon, but he’s hoping manufacturers will take it upon themselves to implement measures which wouldn’t require legislation.

Changes in legislation may also have to be made at a provincial level.