Holyrood calls for 'more ambition' from school bus seat belt bill

12.05.2017

A Scottish Parliamentary Committee is calling for 'a bill aiming to improve safety for young people travelling on school transport to ‘be more ambitious and to go further'.

The Parliament's Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee’s report on the Seat Belts on School Transport (Scotland) Bill, calls on the bill, which introduces a legal requirement for seat belts to be fitted on all dedicated home-to-school transport in Scotland, to be extended to cover buses used for school trips.

Convener of the Committee, Edward Mountain MSP commented:

“Safety of children should be paramount and the Committee is urging the Scottish Government to make no distinction between travel on dedicated transport from home to school and a school excursion. We are urging the Member in Charge, Gillian Martin MSP, supported by the Scottish Government, to go further with this bill, and introduce a mandatory requirement for seat belts to be fitted on buses used for school trips.”

The Convener continued:

“The Committee was surprised to discover there is currently no UK wide legal requirement for children aged 3 to 14 to wear seat belts where they are fitted on buses and coaches.

“Whilst we acknowledge this is a reserved matter, we call on Gillian Martin MSP, as well as the Scottish and UK Governments, to work together to make it a legal requirement for children to wear a seatbelt on school transport.

The Convener added:

“Cultural change around the wearing of seatbelts on school transport is a key issue, especially when it comes to the 'tough audience' of secondary school children

“Our report quotes a school pupil, who said, 'No one puts seat belts on my school bus as it's 'uncool' and if the driver comes round and tells people to wear them, they just get taken off again once he's driving.'

“The committee wants to see clear guidance and practical support provided by the Scottish Government to help ensure that this vital, positive safety improvement is successfully implemented.”

“The Committee is not convinced that the proposed £8.92m cost of implementing the Bill is proportionate to the task in hand.”

The Committee's report also calls on the Scottish Government to clearly outline in guidance the responsibilities placed on local authorities and bus drivers for the safety of pupils using school transport.

Background

The purpose of the Member’s Bill, introduced by Gillian Martin MSP, is to require that seat belts are fitted on all motor vehicles used in dedicated school transport services

The Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee's Stage 1 Report on the Seat Belts on School Transport (Scotland) Bill 2017 can be accessed via this link: https://digitalpublications.parliament.scot/Committees/Report/REC/2017/5/12/Stage-1-Report-on-the-Seat-Belts-on-School-Transport--Scotland--Bill-2017

The Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee scrutinises policy proposals relating to rural affairs, transport and connectivity. It comes to a view after taking comprehensive evidence from, and engaging with, a wide range of stakeholders ‘on the frontline’ and applies authoritative, expert, effective and influential scrutiny to policy.

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