Friday, January 12, 2018

Van Angels: On 10th Anniversary "Our Message Remains The Same"

On the tenth anniversary of the ‘Boys In Red’ tragedy, our Van Angels group remains committed to educating the public on the safest mode of transportation for students and other small travelling groups (daycare, farmer workers and church groups etc).

Our message is always the same even after ten years: the Multi-function School Activity Bus (MFSAB) is the best alternative choice for transporting students. Transport Canada (TC) has always said that the safest mode of transportation for students is a yellow school bus. It is mandatory for school children across Canada to be transported in yellow school buses to and from school. Students participating in after school activities should also be driven in an alternative vehicle built to the same high safety standards called the MFSAB.

Over the years, our Van Angels advocacy work for changes in student transportation and public information resulted in TC conducting a safety review of students extra-curricular transportation vehicles, including 15 passenger vans. The Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators (CCMTA) was then tasked with reviewing the results. CCMTA’s findings determined that 15 passenger vans meet all federal manufacturing requirements/standards and that they were generally found to be as safe as other highway vehicles of similar capacities.

Similar capacity vehicle, including the 15 passenger van means any vehicle with a designated seating capacity of more than 10 and is defined under the Motor Vehicle Safety Regulations (MVSR) as a bus. Not all buses are built the same.

When the CCMTA review stated that 15 passenger vans were as safe as other highway vehicles of similar capacities, all this means is that all vehicles on Canadian roads must meet minimum Canadian Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (CMVSS). The actual truth is that the yellow school bus and MFSAB is built to a higher safety standard. Imagine the uproar if our federal government would of said anything different. The regulators and auto manufacturers share common interest and protect each other when it comes to saying that one vehicle is safer than another. Auto manufactures are only required by law to meet minimum safety standards. Depending on the make and model, manufacturers may chose to build their vehicles to standards higher than the CMVSS, but the yellow school buses and MFSAB must always be built to a mandatory higher safety standard.

We believe that the 15 passenger van is NOT the best alternative choice for student or small group transport. This type of “bus” is only required to meet minimum safety standards.

The minimum safety requirements is what made the 15 passenger van dangerous: lower roof crush resistance then a family car, lack of reinforced sides and a high centre of gravity. They were originally manufactured to carry cargo not humans.

Safety standards have increased over the past 10 years but if you are in an accident (rollover and or collision) you still want the chance of survivability and nothing will help if the compartment around you crushes like a tin can. This is the reason our Van Angel group fought to bring the MFSAB into the Canadian Motor Vehicle Classification system. Our boys were killed in 15 passenger vans that only met minimum vehicle safety standards.

Both the yellow school bus and the MFSAB have reinforced body side panels (CMVSS #221 School Bus Body Joint Strength), a rollover protection cage (CMVSS #220 Rollover Protection) and emergency back exit, (CMVSS #217 Bus Emergency Exit).

Safe transportation for students and small groups does not need to be an issue. There are alternative vehicles available that are built to yellow school bus standards called the MFSAB.

The Boys In Red tragedy killed 7 innocent boys and the coaches wife. We do not want any other family to lose a child.

Isabelle Hains who lost her son Daniel on January 12, 2008 says “If I knew what I know now I would of never have let my son in those 15 passenger vans known as ‘death traps on wheels’.

Written by: 

Isabelle Hains, who lost her 17 year old son, Daniel, in the ‘Boys In Red’ tragedy, when the 15 passenger van they were travelling in collided with a semi-tractor trailer in the early morning of January 12, 2008.

Stella Benedetti Gurr, who lost her 26 year old son, Michael, in a single vehicle 15 passenger van rollover on September 25, 2008.