By Glenn Hicks
A Saskatchewan charter bus company is welcoming news of stricter seatbelt regulations from the federal government, but says enforcement will be a challenge.
Transport Canada will require all newly built medium and large buses used on highways to have seatbelts as of September 2020. The decision comes in the wake of the Humboldt Broncos bus tragedy April 6.
“I think it’s a good idea and they’re there if people want to wear them,” Stacey Petreman, owner and manager of Prince Albert Northern Bus Lines told paNOW. “But, they’re pretty hard to enforce on a motor coach. When you have 56 passengers sitting behind you, you can’t really make people wear them.”
Petreman figured only about two per cent of passengers actually wear the seatbelts which are installed on his fleet of coaches.
“We have a lot of sports teams who use our buses. They’re getting up and moving around, changing, using the washroom, and going to see their buddies,” he said. “I think it would be extremely difficult to enforce it.”
The discussion about seatbelts on buses has been ongoing since the Broncos tragedy, and the family of one deceased player has launched a lawsuit calling for all buses in Saskatchewan that carry sports teams to have seatbelts installed. Transport Canada said it first proposed the rule change in 2017.
Petreman couldn’t say if seatbelt use has increased since the tragedy but said some clients had been asking if his buses are equipped with the devices.
Asked how passengers could be encouraged to wear them, he said he’d consider running a seatbelt video before departure or having the driver remind passengers about their use if that would further enhance safety.
Transport Canada said small buses, with the exception of school buses, are already required to have lap and shoulder belts, while school buses are already designed to protect children in a crash.
—With files from The Canadian Press