Monday, June 7, 2010

Quebec didn't wait for its children to die: It banned vans in the summer of 2008 six months after our boys were killed

Quebec Ministry of Transportation
Passenger Ground Transportation Office

July 18, 2008

Dear Sir or Madam:

As you are directly or indirectly involved in organizing youth transportation, we have communicated with you in recent months following the tragic highway accident in Bathurst, New Brunswick, last January.

This communication is among a series of measures adopted by the Quebec Ministry of Transport to ensure compliance with the Regulation respecting Road Vehicles used for the transportation of school children and secondly to document youth transportation other than school transportation.

Further to these various actions, we have made the following findings. With regard to school transportation, compliance with the Regulation respecting Road Vehicles used for the transportation of school children is good overall. As to transportation organized by educational institutions but for extracurricular activities, there are various interpretations of the types of vehicles that may be used. In some regions, 15-passenger minibuses are required, which does not comply with the regulation. This is because the travel required for such activities is often not considered school transportation. Finally, nearly half the vehicles used for youth transportation other than school transportation are 15-passenger minivans, most often driven by persons who are not professional drivers.

Based on these findings, the Ministry of Transport has adopted two kinds of measures to increase youth transportation safety.

For school transportation, issuing reminders from time to time of the regulatory requirements for vehicles used for the transportation of school children would serve to address the problems identified. These reminders could be issued at symposia or conferences attended by all school transportation officials at school boards and private educational institutions as well as the transportation companies. The student transportation safety committee, part of the Passenger Ground Transportation Office, is very well placed to issue such reminders.

The issues are more worrisome however in youth transportation outside school and extracurricular travel over long distances, and regulations are needed to establish clear guidelines for such transportation. We will soon be proposing amendments to the Regulation in order to include the following principles.

Under the new regulation, we will consider the possibility of banning the use of 15-passenger minibuses for such transportation. For travel not including frequent stops and for youth under the age of 18 years, we are considering requiring the use of a vehicle that complies with the Regulation respecting Road Vehicles used for the transportation of school children. To prevent confusion with actual school buses, the vehicle could nevertheless be a colour other than chrome yellow and would not have to have a stop sign and flashing red and yellow lights to warn drivers. Finally, we will also consider the possibility of requiring that the driver of such vehicles be at least 21 years of age and have taken the 15-hour training course for bus drivers and vehicles used for the transportation of school children.

Thank you for your assistance and rest assured that you will be consulted throughout the development of these regulatory changes. This approach will make it possible to reconcile the various interests at play and essentially ensure that the regulation notice published in the Gazette officielle du Qu├ębec is accepted by the various parties involved.

Sincerely,

Claude Martin
Director


Note from Van Angels: Thanks to Bloc Quebecois Member of Parliament, Meille Faille for this documentation which she received in July 2008 as a parent who has a child in the Quebec school system.