School bus driver Gary Lillico and Chilliwack-Kent MLA Laurie Throness speak to reporters at the B.C. legislature Monday. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)

B.C. petition calls for seat belts in new school buses

Agassiz bus driver collects 124,000 signatures in support

Chilliwack-Kent MLA Laurie Throness has joined calls to start installing seatbelts in new B.C. school buses.

Throness has teamed with Agassiz school bus driver Gary Lillico, whose online petition for the measure to begin in the fall of 2021 has attracted 124,000 signatures after a year.

“It grows daily, I spend almost every day working on it,” Lillico told reporters at the legislature Monday.

Lillico said he started the petition about a year ago after then-federal transport minister Marc Garneau announced a review of a 2010 Transport Canada study, which had never been released until then, came out.

“And it basically said that compartmentalization fails to protect the children in side-impact and rollover accidents,” Lillico said.

Transportation Minister Claire Trevena said Monday that the province is participating in a federal task force on the issue, and she will await the result of that before taking any action.

RELATED: Transport Canada begins review of seatbelt rules

RELATED: Passengers injured in B.C. school bus crash head home

Throness presented a private member’s bill Monday in an effort to gain attention for the measure. It would amend B.C.’s Motor Vehicle Act to require the change for new buses purchased after September 2021, to give school districts a chance to plan.

Throness told the legislature that Transport Canada statistics from 1995 to 2004 show more than 25,000 collisions involving school buses resulted in five passenger deaths and more than 3,400 injuries.

“The public policy response should be what is required of every other vehicle in Canada, and that is three-point seatbelts,” Throness said.


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tfletcher@blackpress.ca

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