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Delegates Debate School Bus Safety

Federated Farmers' 1999 National Council/Conference passionately debated the compulsory installation of safety belts in school buses.

Strong arguments were presented from delegates, as parents and grandparents recognised that a single bus accident has the potential to devastate individual communities and families.

Delegates were told that school buses, even without belts, are the safest form of transport. Bus accidents represent just 2% of school travel fatalities. This compares with 53% of deaths while walking to school, 25% cycling and 18% traveling in family cars.

It was also doubted that installing seatbelts in the current school bus fleet would enhance safety. In fact, for most buses the only type of belt that could be installed were lap type belts. Research has clearly demonstrated that lap seatbelts increase the risk of injury to passengers, and children in particular.

That the costs of immediately installing bus seatbelts could divert funds from education - for a doubtful safety improvement - was a major concern for the delegates.

The Conference therefore decided to oppose the compulsory and immediate installation of seatbelts, but to support the installation of lap and diagonal belts on a voluntary basis as the bus fleet is upgraded.

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