One of the most frequently repeated journeys throughout the year is undoubtedly going to and from school. School transport is one of the topics that most concern us and should be given top priority. Is school transport carried out by schools safe? Should we be evaluating whether or not we will be able to use child restraint systems when hiring this service?
We have often spoken on this site about the importance of including approved child restraint systems suitable for the children's characteristics on school buses (and on any form of public transport) and that they should be used under adult supervision.
There are a number of reasons for promoting the use of child restraint systems on school buses. Among these reasons, we would of course highlight children's safety, not only on intercity travel but also within the city itself. In the event of sharp braking, children can fly out of their seats, in the same way as in a crash.
Child restraint systems are one more way of ensuring they stay in their place, that they do not get up or play in the aisles or in their seats, all of which is clearly dangerous behavior.
Parents should know the rules governing school transport and should ensure they are always complied with. This is how we can ensure that children travel as safely as possible and within current legislative requirements. Nevertheless, there are still gaps in the legislation in terms of seat belts and child restraint systems.
Despite the fact that all buses registered from 2007 must be equipped with seat belts in all their seats, these are only two-point belts and there are no specific requirements regarding child car seats for different children: this is a voluntary decision which depends on the particular transport company.
Possible solutions range from making it compulsory to use child seats or that, while making SRS use voluntary on buses, the local governments and centers could prioritize those companies that include the availability of these seats in their contracts.
This is something we are starting to see in some local governments, such as Castile and Leon or in the Basque country, where the Departments of Education seethe use of safety devices as an “additional criterion that vehicles transporting children to school in the region have some method to further protect young children. Some such methods could include height-adjustable three-point belts and booster seats for children”.
This is a major step forwards in children's road safety in school transport. Over time, all vehicles should be able to install these systems and to provide children with a completely safe journey.