FREDERICTON, New Brunswick — In the wake of a fatal accident on a high school basketball trip in January, officials on Tuesday unveiled recommendations to bolster activity trip safety.
The recommendations were developed by a working group composed of members of the provincial departments of Education, Transportation, Public Safety, and Supply and Services and the Office of the Attorney General.
The group’s recommendations target vehicle type, training, vehicle inspections, use of winter tires and superintendents’ responsibility in ensuring student travel safety.
Although the Department of Education has existing guidelines on transporting students to extracurricular events, it currently has no legal authority to enforce them. The new recommendations strengthen those guidelines, and they are being reviewed by the government to become enforceable regulations.
“I look upon these recommendations very favorably, and my Cabinet colleagues and I will be acting in the near future to put them into place,” Education Minister Kelly Lamrock said. “All parents want to know that their children will be safe when they travel to events, particularly in light of the Bathurst tragedy.”
In that accident, a 15-passenger van was transporting members of the Bathurst High School basketball team on the morning of Jan. 12 when it collided with a tractor-trailer. Eight people were killed.
One of the group’s recommendations is to prohibit the use of vehicles with a passenger capacity of more than nine occupants — other than school buses, multi-functional activity buses or motorcoaches — for student activity trips.
As previously reported, the Canadian Standards Association recently released a new standard for the multi-functional activity bus, which is intended to be a safer alternative to other vehicles, such as vans, that are not classified as a school bus but are still used for student trips.
To read the New Brunswick working group’s recommendations, click here.