In this photo, all seasons on front, winters on rear. The obstacle represents where the same bus outfitted with six winter tires on all four axles had stopped. Photo by John Mahler, February 24, 2010, Continental Tires Testing Facility, near Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan.
Without winter tires on the front axle, the bus can't stop in the same distance. In this photo, all seasons on front, winters on rear. Photo by John Mahler, February 24, 2010, Continental Tires Testing Facility, near Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan.
The Editorial of the New Brunswick Telegraph Journal this morning took the words right out of our mouths - we need Class 2, professional drivers behind the wheels of 21 passenger MFAVs. Don't make us fight for it because we're not stopping. We're determined mothers and more mothers and fathers are going to get involved. This is a number one safety priority for our children and it better be for our government too.
Right Buses, Right Tires - Now Hire Pro Drivers
The 2008 highway accident that killed a teacher and seven Bathurst high school athletes prompted much public discussion about how student safety could be improved.
This week, the provincial government announced a key change in its policies - 21-passenger minibuses used to transport students must be equipped with six winter tires. The announcement follows a specific recommendation issued by Transport Canada, in response to a provincial request for road testing. It also complies with the advice made by a coroner's inquest.
It's about time government adopted this standard. Perhaps the province also will consider adopting the coroner's recommendation to use Class-2 certified bus drivers with professional driving experience.
These aren't radical public policy innovations, but practises that have been proven by time and the experience of millions of school children. Putting professional bus drivers behind the wheel of well-maintained yellow school buses and minibuses represents the gold standard in safe student transport. It ought to be New Brunswick's minimum standard - and if it costs the Department of Education more money or limits the total number of expeditions each school can make, so be it. Student safety is the greater priority.
The Department of Education and Department of Transport have made a commendable effort to comply with the majority of the coroner's inquest recommendations. The government has accepted full responsibility for transporting students safely to extra-curricular events. It has implemented strict maintenance protocols to ensure vehicles are in a safe condition. And it has sought expert advice on how vehicles should be equipped for winter weather.
Surely officials can see the value of employing professional drivers for all school-sponsored travel. They know how to handle buses and minibuses in difficult conditions. They do so five days a week.