By: Olufunke Pegba-Otemolu
Canadian school buses should be a safe means of transportation for our children, not safety risks.
Yet the state of Ontario school buses means lives are being needlessly lost and major life-time injuries sustained through accident. Canada has recorded at least 23 school bus passenger deaths and 10,480 documented injuries since 1984.
Is it fair to say because of the low deaths’ percentage involving school buses, the necessary safety measures should not be taken? No, we can’t because the life of every child matters.
The fact that education is offered free, does not mean the standard of safety for the children should be overlooked or compromised. In order words we have an obligation to these future leaders to provide them unaltered safety measures in all situation at all times. Out of seven fatalities in small school bus crashes, six children would have survived if they had all worn a seatbelt.
While cost should not be a major factor when it comes to protecting children, the data shows the costs of safety are manageable.
Though the accidents may not happen yearly, the percentage may seem low but let’s not forget that the life of some children are being cut short due to either negligence or irrational thinking of saving cost or funds. These children who died are from a family where they are cherished.
Second, it is an irony that seatbelts, primarily designed to minimize injury or restrain a child from been thrown out of a vehicle, is enforced for children in private vehicles but is not available in Ontario school buses. Even the adult bus drivers are belted Third, eight states in the United States representing about 40% of the U.S population are required by law to have seatbelts on school buses as their National Transportation Safety Board and National Safety Council agreed that seatbelts on school buses save lives and prevent injury.
While the Ministry of Transportation in Canada is yet to take a stand on this. The minister recently set up a task force to examine the issue and promised to do the right thing once a report is submitted by the task force.
Hopefully, it will dawn on the government that retrofitting and installing seatbelts in the new school buses is very much doable, and not as complicated as it is been perceived, rather it will bring school bus passenger deaths to the barest minimum, because the aim
here is to make sure there are no deaths when accidents happen and major injuries are reduced to as well.
This goes to say that the safety of children should not be debated nor speculated before the right decision is taken.