Should Seat Belts Be Required On School Buses?

Some time ago, there was some discussing whether installing seat belts on school buses was a good idea. At the time, Transport Canada was proposing new guidelines for Canadian bus operators who want to install seat belts on their buses.

According to the Peel District School Board, the current contingent of school buses are sufficient enough to guarantee children’s safety, because they put in this specialized kind of seating.

If federal law requires that they need seat belts installed, only then will the PDSB comply. But education is an area of provincial jurisdiction and now one MPP has put forward legislation, if passed, that would have seat belts installed on school buses.

Kathleen Wynne, the former Ontario premier but still an MPP from Toronto, introduced a private members bill, Bill 56, called the Keeping Students Safe on School Buses Act.

The bill aims to amend the Highway Traffic Act to mandate that seat belts be installed on school buses. If passed, the bill would require the changes be ready by September 1, 2020.

School buses manufactured before then would not be subject to requiring seat belts, unless they are used to transport children or the bus will be travelling on the number of 400 series highways. “I recognize that there has to be a transition period because these are small businesses and the operators will need some time to retrofit their buses,” Wynne said in an interview with CBC.


In response, the province is deferring to the federal government in making a decision.

While we support the intent of Bill 56, it’s important to note that Transport Canada is responsible for setting the safety requirements for new vehicles and to determine which vehicles are required to be equipped with seatbelts. Elements of the bill may cross into an area of federal jurisdiction,” said Bob Nichols, a spokesperson from the Ontario Ministry of Transportation in an email to inbrampton.com.

“Ministry staff continue to conduct operational analysis of the Bill to better understand what is needed to implement the legislation if it is passed by the legislature including addressing such issues as driver responsibility and costs to industry.”

Bill 56 passed through the second reading stage and is currently being reviewed by the Social Policy Committee at Queen’s Park.

While it seems like a no-brainer to support having one of the most common safety devices installed on a vehicle primarily designed to transport children, some are not convinced. According to the Canada Safety Council, there is no scientific evidence that lives would be saved.

Transport Canada has applied approximately 40 safety standards to the design and construction of school buses made in and imported into Canada. These include specialized brake systems, lighting, emergency exits, escape hatches in the roof, and high padded seat backs that cushion the impact of a crash,” the CSC said on their website.

School buses are not passenger vehicles. They are built to rely on safety not on seat belts, and are designed and constructed differently from passenger cars. They are bigger, heavier, and higher so they have a body-on-frame design. Newer systems, such as an anti-lock braking system would be more beneficial.”

Do you believe that all school buses, no matter what they’re being used for, should have seat belts installed?

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