Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Choices: Kevin McCarthy says groups need choices for safe transportation

Kevin McCarthy
in a photo taken in 2009.
Source: The Western Star
by Stella Gurr

Making an informed decision about the safest mode of transportation for students and other small groups such as sports teams, daycares, seniors, musicians, farm and forestry workers etc. can mean the difference between life and death on our Canadian roads and highways.

Kevin McCarthy, has no doubts about his feelings towards making a conscious effort to promote, recommend and choose the safest vehicles to transport his loved ones and the sports teams that he is actively involved with in Newfoundland.

Kevin's traumatic experience as a survivor of a fatal single vehicle 15-passenger rollover over 35 years ago, always resurfaces when there is another motor vehicle accident involving young people and sports teams.

Click here to read article in the Western Star about Kevin's experience Flashbacks of 1979 come to mind for Kevin McCarthy every time he hears of a bus crash 

On August 17, 1979, Kevin was young  player with the Corner Brook, Newfoundland U-14 soccer team travelling to the provincial championships in Conception Bay.

Kevin remembers that it was raining and the roads were slick and wet causing the Dodge 15-passenger team van to hydroplane a few times. Approximately 11 kilometres outside of Clarenville, the  van once again began to hydroplane but this time, unable to stabilize and regain lane position, it fishtailed, tipped and rolled several times. The van ended up down an embankment on the opposite side of the road.

Kevin's friend and teammate, Doug Quigley died and many of the boys were seriously injured.

Kevin has always played sports and been actively involved in the local and provincial sports community. Currently, he is the general manager of the Western Kings Major Midget Hockey team in Corner Brook, Newfoundland and vice-president (former president) of Baseball Newfoundland and Labrador.

He says that baseball team transportation in his province is generally provided by parent's vehicles and drivers and travel arrangements are left to the discretion of each individual association. His home town team, the Corner Brook Barons baseball league uses their own school bus, called the Blue Baron II for transporting players. He also points out that the local midget hockey team, the Western Kings, always uses the large coach buses for travel.

Transport Canada and the provinces reviewed the regulation and use of 15-passenger vans, after the horrific Bathurst tragedy that killed seven senior high school basketball players and a coach's wife in a collision between the school's 15-passenger van and a semi-tractor trailer.

Since banning any vehicle is mandated under the provinces and territories,it was left to each individual jurisdiction to make that decision and thus fell short of implementing a nation-wide ban in all Canadian schools.

Currently, 15-passenger vans are banned from use for all school related activities in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island and Quebec. A patchwork of regulations banning 15-passenger vans for school use exists in many school districts across Canada.

Many Canadians, including accident survivor Kevin McCarthy, agree with our Van Angels group that we need to provide the safest vehicle available to transport students and other small groups.

Canadians need to be well informed about the types of vehicles that are available for this purpose. Since both Transport Canada and the National Transportation Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA) agree that school buses are the safest mode of transportation for students, then there should be no doubt that vehicles with a school bus body build are the logical choice.

Both the familiar yellow school bus and the Multifunction School Activity Bus (MFSAB) are built to higher mandatory Canadian and US (CMVSS and FMVSS) Motor Vehicle Safety Standards.