COURTENAY, B.C. – Seat belts won’t be on school busses in the Comox Valley any time soon.

That’s in light of a recent CBC documentary series focused on school bus safety.

School District 71 has shared its thoughts on the matter.

SD71’s Communications and Community Engagement Manager, Mary Lee, said all school busses in the Comox Valley must adhere to Transport Canada regulations.

Lee issued the following statement, prepared by her and various senior staff.

Comox Valley Schools adheres to Transport Canada policy and direction for school bus use including seat belts. All buses contracted by the Comox Valley School District must meet Transport Canada standards and meet all Motor Vehicle Act regulations.

We are aware of the recent documentary concerning the use of seat belts across Canada and the United States that aired on the Firth Estate and published in a series of articles on CBC News online. We also understand that in July 2018, Transport Canada announced it would require all newly built highway buses to have seat belts and that seatbelt use will be mandatory on medium and large highway buses at of September 1, 2020. These new rules currently don’t apply to school buses. Transport Canada has declared school buses are already designed to protect children in a crash.

If we are asked to share in a dialogue on the use of seat belts on school buses, given the recent attention on the topic, we would certainly take the opportunity. Ultimately, Transport Canada, the Canadian Safety Council and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are the subject matter experts on the subject and are the appropriate authority to speak more extensively on the topic.

Up in Campbell River, School District 72’s board chair Richard Franklin stated that the issue has been raised by one of the board’s trustees.

However, Franklin said today’s school buses have seat backs made of high density foam, and that the seats are spaced 24 inches apart.

He noted that these designs, combined with smaller windows, “are supposed to create an effect known as compartmentalization.”

Franklin said that according to Transport Canada, that’s safer than any other form of restraint device, including seat belts.

-With files from Troy Landreville


EDITORS NOTE: The following line was included in this story in it’s original publication: “If seat belts were to be installed on local school busses, the district would be going against regulations, which could cause strain for SD71.”

This line was not factual, and we apologize for it’s inclusion.