Bus belts backed by principal

By Dawn Cohen

Ballina High School principal Ros Mayberry has welcomed Federal Government consideration of compulsory seatbelts on school buses.

"We need enough buses serving our schools so each student can sit in their own seat with their own seatbelts," she said.

Federal Roads Minister Jim Lloyd is reported to be considering proposals to make seatbelts compulsory on new school buses.

Ms Mayberry also supported proposals that bus companies be compensated for fitting seatbelts to existing buses.

"The costs are high, so bus companies would probably welcome that idea," Ms Mayberry said.

Ballina teachers and parents have been pushing for mandatory seatbelts following two bus crashes involving local students in the past three months.

In August, 39 Southern Cross K-12 students travelling south on Angels Beach Drive collided with a sedan at the Coast Road junction.

A month before that a bus transporting a Ballina High School AFL team was involved in a head-on collision near Coffs Harbour.

Federal Australian design rules require seatbelts to be fitted to buses providing long-distance and charter services, but not to school buses travelling similar roads.

While Queensland has legislated for compulsory seatbelts on school buses travelling on highrisk routes, NSW has not.

The NSW Government has referred the matter to the Australian Transport Council.

Janice Shalhoub, spokesperson for the NSW Belt Up for Safety action group, is not expecting a swift resolution.

"The Federal and State governments keep passing the buck to each other," she said.

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