CAMPBELL RIVER, B.C. – Don’t expect seat belts in Campbell River’s school buses in the near future.

Board chair Richard Franklin said School District 72 is required to comply with federal and provincial government regulations and that Transport Canada is the organization that regulates bus safety standards.

“It’s actually Transport Canada policy that regulates school buses, in consultation with the provincial government,” Franklin told the newsroom.

Franklin said the district is looking into putting belts in buses.

“The issue was raised by one of the school trustees, Joyce McMann. She had seen something on television regarding seat belts on buses and wanted more information,” he noted.

“At this time there’s been no change to the federal or provincial regulations to include seat belts. But the district takes student safety very seriously and so we are just double-checking and crossing the T’s and dotting the I’s and making sure the kids are safe on the bus.”

He later said that, “if, for example, the board felt that there is enough evidence for seat belts on school buses, then it would be up to the board to begin the process of advocating for that, with Transport Canada and the provincial government. Right now we’re at the very beginnings of looking into the issue.”

Currently, the issue of equipping Campbell River school buses with seat belts is out of the district’s control.

“It really is out of our hands,” Franklin said. “The problem, of course, is if you put seat belts on the buses and Transport Canada says that you shouldn’t, then there would be a problem, because then we would be not in compliance with Transport Canada.”

Franklin said today’s school buses have seat backs made of high density foam, and that the seats are spaced 24 inches apart. He noted that these designs, combined with smaller windows, “is supposed to create an effect known as compartmentalization.”

“This is apparently, according to Transport Canada, safer than any other form of restraint device, including seat belts,” he said.

There are 5,400 students in Campbell River attending two high schools, two middle schools, and 12 elementary schools.

“Not all kids are bused to school, but all the kids take field trips in our school buses, for sure,” Franklin said.