Parents’ plea for school bus seat belts

Gellibrand parents Kim Read and Frank Kovacs have concerns about the State Government’s announcement of new and replacement school buses having seat belts.

Gellibrand parents Kim Read and Frank Kovacs have concerns about the State Government’s announcement of new and replacement school buses having seat belts.

A CAMPAIGNER for seat belts on school buses wants the State Government to make a Colac district bus route a priority.

Roads Minister Terry Mulder announced this week that new and replacement dedicated school buses would have seat belts.

But Gellibrand’s Frank Kovacs said he was disappointed the government failed to include the retrofitting of school buses with seat belts.

“It’s absolutely crazy, why are the school kids the only ones who don’t have to wear seat belts, every other coach in the state does?” Mr Kovacs said.

“I’ve been trying to get something done for a couple of years now,” he said.

Mr Kovacs’ son Jade, 14, travels to Lavers Hill K-12 College each day on the Colac-Lavers Hill Road and the Great Ocean Road.

Mr Mulder said the government-commissioned Public Transport Victoria report looked at the installation of seat belts on regional and rural dedicated free school buses.

He said PTV’s report identified potential “high, medium and low risk routes that could inform a staged roll-out of seat belts”.

“I have asked PTV to carefully consider the findings of the new report and identify implementation options in the coming months,” Mr Mulder said.

“It is too early to identify specific routes or outline an implementation plan,” he said.

Mr Kovacs called on the government to make the Lavers Hill school bus its priority for the first seat belt-fitted bus.

“It’s one of the most hazardous,” he said.

“If they’re going to start auditing areas and start working out what needs to be done this ought to be a priority.

“I think high risk should be identified immediately and rolled out immediately, and roll out the rest as they see fit.”

Mr Kovacs said he and other parents had received reports from their children of near misses as the bus makes its way through the Otways.

Law firm Slater and Gordon has raised concerns it could take between 17 and 20 years to replace the state’s school bus fleet of about 1500 buses.

Lawyer Chris Lynch said the measure was a “step in the right direction” but had concerns about the scheme’s timeframe.

“The idea that regional Victorian students will still be travelling to school on the state’s highways without wearing seat belts in 2030 does not make sense, especially given they were made compulsory in Victorian cars in 1964,” Mr Lynch said.

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