The New South Wales government has announced a $200 million program to improve safety on the state’s rural school buses.
In a statement yesterday (July 30), minister for transport Gladys Berejiklian and minister for roads and ports Duncan Gay revealed that the government will be following through on most of the recommendations made by the Independent School Bus Safety Community Advisory Committee.
The majority of the funding will go towards installing seatbelts on buses dedicated to rural school services.
“Today the NSW government is making a substantial financial commitment to addressing an issue which is so important to communities in regional and rural areas,” said Ms Berejiklian in a statement.
Mr Gay called the move to improve school bus safety a “significant step”.
“Our plan will see almost 1,700 buses which run only school services in rural and regional areas fitted with seatbelts over the next decade, which is an ambitious, but necessary undertaking,” he said.
In addition to the installation of seatbelts, a number of other measures are to be enacted to improve school bus safety.
These include a new student code of conduct for seatbelt use, the development of a safety standard for designing rural bus stops, reviewing speed limits around buses and communication strategies to promote good school bus safety practice.
The advisory committee, which was established in 2011, released its recommendations in a report published in October 2012.
The report’s authors noted that while school buses are a comparatively safe form of travel, accidents can and do occur.
When those accidents are significant, the impact on families and communities can be “both devastating and enduring”.
The committee further noted that statistics reveal there is a higher rate of injury on rural school buses than metropolitan ones.
“This reflects the environment where bus travel is at higher speed on country roads with significantly greater hazards than in metropolitan areas,” said the authors.
“It is therefore the strong view of the committee that any action that could reasonably be taken to mitigate the consequences of such incidents should be implemented.”
Then followed the recommendations of the committee, most of which have been adopted by the government.
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