Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Seat Belt Debate Continues

At Tuesday evening's council meeting I rised the document "Consultation on Seat Belt Wearing" for discussion. I had already highlighted this issue on previous occasions. Throughout the consultation document on seat belt wearing, statements such as "seat belts are effective in saving lives and reducing injuries" and "they are particularly beneficial in preventing ejection through windows and reducing the risk of being crushed by the vehicle if it overturns" figures were also given for the period 2004 which were, no fatalities, 14 serious injuries and 183 slight injuries. I am thankful that there were no fatalities, but very conscious of the tragic accident involving a school bus in Southern Ireland which brought so much grief to the families involved. But if statements such as this are being made surely there is a need for seat belts in buses?

There is a practice of 3 pupils in 2 seats in buses which I find unacceptable, many of the teen age pupils travelling would need as much seat space as an adult, I have also seen pupils standing in buses.
My understanding of the document is that legislation for seatbelts will be brought in May 2006.

In the interests of some of the risks highlighted by the report I recommended that the questionnaire accompanying the consultation document be completed and that we as a Council would object to the practice of 3 for 2 in seating for school children particularly those older pupils and agree that seat belts be fitted to buses. The important part of my recommendation was that the Department of Education must make extra financial provision to the area Boards, for these safety measures for pupils travelling on buses.

The recommendation I am glad to say was accepted."