Scotland

MSP proposes new school transport seatbelt law

Seatbelt Image copyright State Farm

Proposed changes to the law to ensure all school buses are fitted with seatbelts have been unveiled.

SNP MSP Gillian Martin formally introduced a Member's Bill at Holyrood to make seatbelts a legal requirement on dedicated school transport.

The measures contained in the Seatbelts on School Transport (Scotland) Bill have been supported by the Scottish government.

It is currently up to local authorities to demand seatbelts on school buses.

Just over half of Scotland's councils have it as a requirement within school transport contracts.

Launching the Bill, Aberdeenshire East MSP Ms Martin said: "As a mother and member of a rural community, I am all too aware of the importance of safety on the journey to and from school.

"The safety of our children is paramount, and the response to the proposed legislation from parents, schools and other groups has been extremely positive and supportive."

She added that the Scottish government has taken a collaborative approach to shaping the proposals, working with local government, the transport industry and parenting groups.

Legal requirement

The move follows the devolution of powers under the Scotland Act and mirrors measures already implemented in Wales.

The proposed legislation would place a statutory requirement on local authorities and other education providers to make sure vehicles used in all dedicated home-to-school transport are fitted with seatbelts.

The new legal requirement is intended to come into effect next year for vehicles transporting primary school children, and in 2021 for those carrying secondary school pupils.

The staggered phasing-in is intended to help councils and bus companies adapt to the change.

It will apply to all road vehicles provided by local authorities, grant-aided schools or independent schools, such as buses, coaches, minibuses and taxis.

The National Parent Forum of Scotland said it fully supported the Bill.

Chairwoman Joanna Murphy said: "Parents would always wish for their child to be transported safely to and from school, and this Bill aims to ensure just that."

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