(Black Press File)

Alberta looking into mandatory school bus seatbelts: Transport Minister Mason

Review comes one day after a school bus crashed south of Calgary

Alberta’s transport minister says the province is looking into making seatbelts mandatory on school buses.

Brian Mason made the remark a day after a school bus rolled on its side south of Calgary and seriously injured a student.

Foothills School Division #38 says in a Facebook statement that the student and the bus driver are in hospital in stable condition.

RCMP say another student was treated for minor injuries and that police are still investigating.

READ MORE: Student rushed to hospital after school bus crash south of Calgary

Ottawa announced a task force earlier this month to look into retrofitting school buses with seatbelts.

Federal Transport Minister Marc Garneau ordered a fresh look at the safety data in October following a CBC investigation that suggested current regulations were based on outdated or incomplete information.

“The existing wisdom with respect to that and the study that Transport Canada has based its current policy on needs to be reviewed,” Mason said Tuesday.

“I’ve asked the department to move more quickly in re-examining that in light of this incident and others.”

Canada doesn’t require seatbelts on school buses, but did introduce new guidelines last June to regulate their use by bus operators who choose to install them.

RELATED: Mother of child who died in school bus accident calls for seatbelts

Those new technical requirements say restraints must not compromise existing safety features of the compartmentalized seats specifically designed to protect school children in the event of a crash.

A 2010 Transport Canada report concluded current compartmentalization safety features on buses are not enough to stop injuries, particularly in side impacts and rollovers.

Acting Supt. Pamela Ranelli says the Foothills School Division’s thoughts are with those affected by Monday’s crash.

“We have spent the day working to support our school community during this difficult time. We recognize that many of our students, families, and staff have been concerned by this news and we are committed to providing supports for as long as they may be needed,” she said in the Facebook post.

“We join with the community in extending an outpouring of caring, compassion, and support for the families involved.”

The Canadian Press


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