No drawbacks associated with mandatory seatbelts on buses: Orlando

By Kirsten McMahon, Associate Editor

Transport Canada’s recent announcement that it is requiring seatbelts to be installed on highway buses is “long overdue,” Toronto critical injury lawyer Dale Orlando tells The Lawyer’s Daily.

The legal publication reports that by 2020, seatbelts will be installed on all large and medium-sized highway buses. “Small buses, with the exception of school buses, already have lap and shoulder belts,” the article states.

A spokesperson for Transport Canada said the agency first proposed installing seatbelts in medium and large highway buses in 2017, but notes the vehicles have a proven safety record.

“Historically, highway buses average fewer than four fatalities a year with roughly 60 million passenger trips and over 10 billion passenger kilometres travelled annually,” the spokesperson said. “Although rare, when a severe collision such as a rollover does occur, there is a risk of occupants being ejected from the bus. Wearing a seatbelt reduces the risk of ejection, lowering the potential risk of serious injury.”

Orlando, a founding partner with McLeish Orlando LLP, says he doesn't understand why seatbelts are not mandatory or available on most buses.

“I certainly don’t see any drawback and I think it’s a step in the right direction,” he tells The Lawyer’s Daily.

The article notes the installation of seatbelts falls within the purview of the federal government, but the use of them is governed by the provinces and territories.

Orlando says provincial rules requiring the use of the belts would be a good move.

“People of my generation grew up wearing seatbelts,” he says. “Again, I think making seatbelts required on these buses as a safety feature is a step in the right direction and mandating they be worn would be a further step in that direction.”

Orlando also adds that these regulations could also be extended to school buses.

“My kids don’t ride on a school bus, but if they did I’d rather they wear seatbelts on the rare occasion whether there is a head-on collision where you’re violently thrown forward in the vehicle, or a vehicle rollover where you’re being tossed around inside the bus,” he says.

“Granted it might be very small in terms of the possibility of those events happening, but I don’t care if it’s one in a million trips. I fail to see the negatives associated with having seatbelts in school buses.”

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