Sunday, 24 June 2012

Hey, Minister Berejiklian, heed the call for safer travel on school buses

Come on, Minister Berejiklian, get out and listen to what the community is repeatedly saying: Improve the safety of travellers on school buses.

Coffs Harbour school principal, Mr Michael Carniato, is the latest contributor to the letters columns in the Coffs Coast Advocate calling upon the Minister to lift her game and do something constructive by announcing the outcomes of the NSW School Bus Safety Committee's consultative processes.

Mr Carniato politely reminded Minister Berejiklian that the chair of the NSW School Bus Safety Committee, which was set up by the Minister, told a community meeting in Coffs Harbour in November 2011 the outcomes of this committee's process would be made public in the second quarter of 2012.

Well, Minister Berejiklian, today's Sunday 24 June so that means there are just six, yes 6, days left in the second quarter.

Get on with it, Minister, and announce the outcomes.

Here's the complete text of Mr Carniato's letter.

School bus fear

Last week's state budget failed to deliver the funding needed to complete the Pacific Highway upgrade by 2016.

While we wait for a safer road to be built, we have many old and unsafe school buses travelling at high speed on the highway. These buses were not built to withstand the 20g forces likely to be experienced in a high-speed crash.

They are up to 25 years old and were built before the legislation introduced for all Australian coaches after the horrific bus crashes near Clybucca and Cowper that killed 55 people.

Why doesn't this legislation apply to school children who travel up to 200 times a year in a bus? Many of these older school buses have hard, low-backed seats which were banned in 1977 by the US federal government.

Buses with safe seats and seatbelts are needed on the road and all children should be seated, not standing or sitting in a bus aisle.

At a community meeting in Coffs Harbour in November 2011 the chair of the NSW School Bus Safety Committee, set up by the Transport Minister, announced the outcomes of this committee's process would be made in the second quarter of 2012.

We are now waiting for Minister Berejiklian's announcement.

Mr Michael Carniato
Principal, John Paul College

Image credit: The Daily Examiner

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