Transport Canada is reviewing the possibility of making seat belts mandatory in school buses across Canada.
However, Mike Brideau, the manager of Alouette Bus Lines out of Sturgeon Falls is concerned about the idea.
“I know there’s no cost to safety - not sure where it came from,” Brideau says about the proposed school bus seat belt initiative.
“There hasn't been a bus incident since 2008 so I’m not sure where the big talk of this is coming from.”
Transport Canada says the proposal would improve safety for children caught up in severe crashes, especially rollovers.
As it is, the key requirements on buses are to have high-back padded seats, closely spaced together, known as compartmentalization, to protect riders without the need for seat belts.
“They are made to hit the seat in front of you not go flying over,” Brideau explained.
“School buses are one of the safest vehicles the way the seats are made already.”
But Brideau’s biggest concern is who will be responsible for getting children in and out of their seat belts.
“People don’t realize, how do you monitor the seat belts in the buses and the kids with seat belts,” questions Brideau.
“A school bus driver has enough on their plate trying to get the students to school safely as it is without having to look to see if seat belts are on. If a child takes a seat belt off, then what happens? Does the bus driver have to pull over to get them to put their seat belt on?”
Brideau believes the seat belt concept could scare school bus drivers away from the occupation.
“Bus drivers may not want that whole responsibility when there are 72 kids on the bus,” said Brideau.
“If you had a full bus, how long would it take you to undo 72 seat belts?”
Brideau says he will find out more about the school bus seat belts at the Ontario Transportation Expo Conference and Trade Show scheduled for April in Toronto.
With files from Canadian Press