The bill would require all new school buses purchased in the province after September 2021 to be equipped with seat belts. Photo courtesy Des Moines (Iowa) Public Schools

The bill would require all new school buses purchased in the province after September 2021 to be equipped with seat belts. Photo courtesy Des Moines (Iowa) Public Schools

BRITISH COLUMBIA, Canada — A provincial lawmaker here introduced a bill on Monday that would require seat belts on new school buses, Vancouver Sun reports.

Laurie Throness, a member of the province's legislative assembly, presented the bill to the legislature after a local school bus driver created an online petition demanding that Transport Canada require three-point seat belts on school buses, according to the news source. The new bill would amend British Columbia’s Motor Vehicle Act and make seat belts mandatory on all new buses purchased in the province after September 2021.

As previously reported, Gary Lillico started the petition after he came across an investigative report in October 2018 on CBC’s “The Fifth Estate” about a study from Transport Canada that reached the conclusion that school bus safety features were insufficient in preventing injuries. The conclusion was apparently based on a flawed study from 1984, according to the CBC story.

Throness told CityNews that the more he looked into the lack of seat belts on school buses, the more he considered the need for a policy change. He also told the news source that he wants to give school boards some time to make the shift to add seat belts, and that the initiative will need to be phased in if the bill passes.

On Monday, Claire Trevana, the minister of transportation and infrastructure, told CityNews that the provincial government is participating in a task force initiated by Transport Canada to analyze “measures to improve safety in and around school buses, including seat belts.” She added that safety is a top priority for the province, and that “if there is a way to improve the safety of school buses, we are interested in looking at it — and we already are.” She also said that the task force’s recommendations will be presented in January.

As of press time, Lillico’s petition has collected more than 120,000 signatures, with a goal of 150,000.

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