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In wake of Humboldt Broncos tragedy, Canada making seat belts mandatory on future highway buses

Transport Canada has announced seat belts will be required for all medium- and large-sized buses built on Sept. 1, 2020 and later. - Vasuta Thitayarak/123rf
Transport Canada has announced seat belts will be required for all medium- and large-sized buses built on Sept. 1, 2020 and later. - Vasuta Thitayarak/123rf

OTTAWA – All newly built highway buses in Canada will soon be required to have seat belts.

That’s according to Transport Canada, which announced in a release today, July 11, medium- and large-sized buses built on Sept. 1, 2020 and later must have the safety devices installed.

Transport Canada first proposed seat belt requirements in 2017, the release states.

"We've all heard the message to buckle up over the years, and I think it's time we brought this approach to highway buses too,” Transport Minister Marc Garneau said.

“By having seat belts on highway buses, we can help reduce injuries in severe collisions, such as rollovers, and improve safety for everyone."

Mandatory bus seat belts have been in a brighter spotlight since the April 6 crash of the coach bus carrying the Humboldt Broncos junior hockey team in Saskatchewan in which 16 people were killed and several others injured.

There are no laws at present in Canada requiring passengers to wear seat belts on buses.

Medium- and large-sized buses are defined as having a weight over 4,536 kilograms. Small buses, those under 4,536 kilograms, already have lap and shoulder belts – with the exception of school buses.

Seat belts on school buses will not be mandatory under the new requirements, according to the release, as they are already designed to protect children during crashes. School bus operators can install seat belts voluntarily, however, if they meet Transport Canada's guidelines.

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