‘If there’s a will, there’s a way’: Father of Broncos crash victim advocates for seatbelt requirement
The father of one of the players killed in the Humboldt Broncos bus crash says more could be done to ensure the safety of bus passengers on Canada’s highways.
“It’s a good first step, the announcement of putting seatbelts on the bus in 2020,” Russell Herold told CTV News on Tuesday. “But, that’s just the first step.”
Herold’s 16-year-old son, Adam, was one of 16 people killed in the crash on April 6. Thirteen others were injured.
The Broncos were travelling on Highway 35 for a playoff game against the Nipawin Hawks collided with a semi-truck at the intersection with Highway 335. The driver of the semi, Jaskirat Singh Sidhu, has been charged with 16 counts of dangerous driving causing death and 13 counts of dangerous driving causing bodily harm.
Herold has also launched a lawsuit against the truck driver, trucking company and the manufacturer of the bus. One of the goals of the lawsuit is to make sure buses have proper safety equipment to prevent passengers from being ejected in the event of a crash.
Seatbelts to be installed by 2020
Transport Canada announced that all medium and large highway buses would need to install seatbelts on July 11. Any new buses will need to comply with the requirement by Sept. 1, 2020.
“There needs to be legislation sooner than later,” Herold said.
Timeline not changing after Broncos crash
According to Transport Canada, the seatbelt requirement was brought forward in 2017. The federal government says stakeholders supported the proposal, but it will take time to implement.
The Canadian Press obtained documents under the Access to Information Act that showed Transport Canada considered moving up the timeline of the rule following the Broncos crash in April. The documents showed options like moving up the requirement by a year, or staggering the dates for medium and large buses.
The documents showed that Transport Canada decided to stick with the 2020 timeline.
Herold says he would have supported the changes coming into place sooner.
“The sooner it’s in, the sooner it’s going to save lives,” he said.
Enforcement up to the provinces
Each province or territory is responsible for enforcing its own seatbelt laws. The enforcement laws are laid out by the government and enforced by police forces.
Herold believes seatbelts should be mandatory for anyone riding on a transport bus.
“It’s mandatory on an airplane,” he said.
Herold suggests that bus drivers could be responsible for monitoring seatbelt usage on their buses, or RCMP could pull over vehicles to ensure everyone is buckled in.
“If there’s a will, there’s a way,” he said.
The province of Saskatchewan says it will comply with the new rules when they are brought in, and that it will work with the federal government to implement any changes.
Improved safety through seatbelts
Statistics from the U.S. National Highway Traffic Administration show the effectiveness level of seatbelts is 77 per cent in rollovers and 36 per cent in other collisions.
Transport Canada says installing seatbelts could save an average of one to two lives per year.
“If it saves one life, that surely justifies having seatbelts on the bus,” Herold said.
With files from The Canadian Press