Taverniti | Vashishth LLP (torontospersonalinjurylawyer.com), a law firm specializing in all aspects of Canadian personal injury law, is addressing Canadian agencies’ refusal to legislate school buses to require seat-belts.
The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTCA) is recommending that all school buses in the U.S. have seat-belts and may implement laws requiring the safety measure. There is no similar legislation in Canada, and neither Transport Canada nor provincial governments have any intention of making seat-belts a requirement for school buses in Canada. (Source: Chittley, J. “U.S. now says seatbelts on school buses are necessary, Canada disagrees,” The Globe and Mail web site, November 13, 2015; http://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-drive/news/trans-canada-highway/us-now-says-seatbelts-on-school-buses-are-necessary-canada-disagrees/article27248573/)
“This is a clear move by the U.S. indicating that children should always be wearing seat-belts to prevent serious injury,” says Maria Taverniti, lawyer and founding partner of Taverniti | Vashishth LLP. “As this legislation would require a complete overhaul of school buses in the U.S., it’s clear that they are quite serious about the safety risk. It calls into question the position of our federal and provincial agencies in Canada.”
In justifying their position against requiring seat-belts in school buses, Transport Canada claims that school buses are the safest transportation method for children. They also point towards the difficulty of enacting mandatory seat-belt requirements, which would require changes to both federal and provincial legislation.
“It is true that school buses do not account for a high percentage of accidents, but there have been incidents where children are seriously injured or even killed,” notes Taverniti. “The question is whether the government should be doing more to address this.”
Statistics show that while school bus accidents do not account for a large percentage of injuries, they do cause hundreds of injuries each year. According to the National Collision Database, there were over 3,000 injuries and 11 deaths from school bus accidents in Canada between 2003 and 2012.
“This move by the U.S. could set the precedent for changes to legislation in Canada,” says Taverniti. “When another country clearly sees this as a safety risk for children, it puts an onus on Transport Canada and other agencies to justify their lack of action on the same issue.”
NHTCA administrator Mark Rosekind has said that policy change in the U.S. did not come sooner because of the difficulties involved. However, he said it was time for the NHTCA to take action and make the change.
“In Canada, it will be interesting to see what effect this has on our laws and in legal cases,” says Taverniti. “School bus accidents can cause serious injury to children, and these can be complicated cases. There’s a question of whether the government, or manufacturers, bear responsibility when there’s an accident.”
Taverniti | Vashishth LLP handles personal injury claims ranging from car and road accidents, slips and falls, and catastrophic claims. They are equipped to handle the most complex legal and insurance issues arising from an accident. To arrange a free consultation with one of their lawyers, call (905)-264-8686 or visit the company website at http://torontospersonalinjurylawyer.com.