PEI

Seat belts on coaches need a closer look, says bus company

There should be an industry-wide discussion about seat belt use on coaches following the Humboldt crash, says Maritime Bus president Mike Cassidy.

'If manufacturers put the seatbelts in, did you put it in for a reason?'

About a third of Maritime Bus coaches are equipped with seatbelts. (Shutterstock)

There should be an industry-wide discussion about seat belt use on coaches following the Humboldt crash, says Maritime Bus president Mike Cassidy.

The death toll in the Humboldt Broncos bus accident rose to 16 Wednesday. It's not yet clear if that bus was equipped with seat belts.

Cassidy said 33 of his 92 coach buses are equipped with three point seat belts, and he's expecting eight new buses with seat belts this year.

What happened in Humboldt hits home for everybody, Cassidy said, and reinforces for him why his company has compliance, training and safety measures in place. He would like to see discussions around whether seat belt use should be mandatory.

"If manufacturers put the seatbelts in, did you put it in for a reason? Was it a safety reason?" he said.

Mike Cassidy says he doesn't see a lot of people using the seatbelts that are available. (Natalia Goodwin/CBC )

"If they're there for the right reason, why aren't we mandating that unless you're getting up to use the washroom in the back of the bus, once they bus is in motion, you have to have your seatbelt on."

Cassidy said they don't see a lot of people using seatbelts on the buses that have them.

He acknowledged it could be difficult for bus companies to police whether people are wearing their seatbelts while the bus is in motion.

As more is learned about what happened in the Humboldt tragedy, Cassidy believes there will be further discussions within the industry.

"We get better in an industry as we progress and as we evolve, and I honestly believe this accident is going to make us talk," he said.

"I hope that we can get around the table to be able to discuss what is compliance and what is safety going forward. And seat belts have to be a number one discussion."

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With files from Maggie Brown

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