Ottawa is slow to make compulsory the wearing of seat belts in buses

Ottawa tarde à rendre obligatoire le port de la ceinture dans les autobus

Photo: Jonathan Hayward, The canadian Press
The documents reveal that Transport Canada has proposed to adopt the new regulations quickly in the wake of the tragic accident, which occurred on April 6 in Saskatchewan.

Russell Herold, whose son Adam was among the 16 victims of the accident of coach that decimated the Broncos Humboldt, wonders about the reasons for Ottawa to wait two years before imposing the wearing of seat belts in buses.

Documents obtained by The canadian Press through the Law on access to information reveal that Transport Canada has proposed to adopt the new regulations quickly in the wake of the tragic accident, which occurred on April 6 in Saskatchewan.

The hockey team travelled to the north of the province to play a game of the playoffs when the coach which was carrying collided with a semi-trailer truck.

Among the passengers, 16 people have lost their lives and 13 others were injured. The truck driver faces charges of dangerous driving.

Ottawa has referred to the implementation of new rules requiring the wearing of seat belts in buses for over a year before the deadly accident. The final version of the new regulation was unveiled at the beginning of the month, but it will not come into force before 1 September 2020.

“Why not impose it sooner than later ? asks Russell Herold. If it had been able to save a life, it would not be beneficial for everyone ? “

According to internal documents, Transport Canada has studied the possibility to act more quickly in the days that followed the tragedy in Saskatchewan.

“We look carefully at the date of entry into force, and as soon as possible, we will provide details on the risks/challenges of earlier,” wrote the director general of the division of motor vehicle safety at Transport Canada, Michael DeJong, in an email sent to his colleagues on 8 April.

The options considered included ahead of a year the entry into force of the regulation, or adopt two effective dates different for the large and the resources bus.

Need time

After thinking about it, Transport Canada has preferred to maintain the original date of 2020, in spite of the accident of the Broncos.

“The bus manufacturers have expressed their support for the legislation, but have asked for an appropriate period of time for the implement,” wrote officials.

Transport Canada has also been informed that the provinces need time to deal with the issues of responsibility of drivers regarding the devices to children, the standing passengers and those minors who would not be attached.

Checks should also be carried out to ensure that new vehicles are compliant with the regulations.

The new rules will apply only to new buses. Vehicles already in service are subject to the jurisdiction of the provinces and territories.

According to Transport Canada, between 25% and 75% of the buses in service are already equipped with seatbelts and it is estimated at less than one million dollars per year the cost to equip the rest of the vehicles.

The addition of seat belts should reduce the risk of death by 77 % in the case of a rollover, according to the calculations of probability, and 36 % for other types of collisions.

“You have to believe that the belts would have been able to make a difference. It was told by the coroner that all the world had been ejected from the bus, ” said Russell Herold.

Lewis Smith, of the canada safety Council, says her organization was divided into learner that the rules would not be in force in 2020.

“On the one hand, we feel that this type of regulation should already exist since a long time, so the fact that she will not be in place before 2020… at first glance, it is a little disturbing,” he said.

However, Lewis Smith acknowledges that the delay is logical, since the application of the law is a responsibility of the provinces.

The family Herold has filed a lawsuit that claims including the requirement that any school bus carrying a sports team is equipped with seat belts and other safety devices.

Russell Herold wants to know how the authorities intend to enforce the law to ensure that the passengers are attached. It suggests, in particular, to conduct audits on buses or require lights to facilitate the task of drivers.