Wednesday, September 9, 2009

'Death traps' still popular in most provinces

Only Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia have banned schools from using vans. The other provinces say it's not up to them to tell schools what vehicles they can use

By Richard Foot, Canwest News Service

(Click here to read the full article in the Calgary Herald)

September 9, 2009

Bathurst Phantoms Van January 12, 2007 Photo by Sandor FizliDozens of school districts in Canada are still transporting children to extracurricular events in 12- and 15-seat passenger vans, nearly two years after a deadly New Brunswick accident brought the dangers of those vans to the nation's attention.

All but three provinces — Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia — still allow schoolchildren to travel in the vans, called "death traps" by the Safety Forum, a U.S. consumer watchdog.

The federal government also hasn't restricted the sale or distribution of the vans Canada, even though U.S. federal law bans their sale for the purposes of child transport, and more than 30 American states prohibit schools or daycares from using them.

Seven high school students and a teacher were killed in New Brunswick in January, 2008 when the 15-seat van they were driving in swerved out of control and collided with a transport truck.

In the weeks after the crash, education officials in several provinces promised to review the use of 15-seat vans. At the time, only Nova Scotia banned schools from using them — a rule enacted in 1994 after a 15-seat van crashed in Nova Scotia, killing three young hockey players and a parent.

So far only Quebec and New Brunswick have followed suit. The others say it's not their responsibility to dictate to schools what vehicles they can use.

A survey by Canwest News Service of 37 school districts across Canada found seven districts, 19 per cent of the sample, that still used 12- or 15-seat vans to drive children to extracurricular events. Click here to read the rest of the article in the Calgary Herald.