Ottawa first proposed a seatbelt rule more than a year before the crash the April 6 tragedy involving the Humboldt Broncos. (Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Ottawa considered speeding up new seatbelt rule after Broncos crash: documents

Sixteen people died and 13 were injured

The father of a teen who died in a crash that killed 16 people on a junior hockey team bus is questioning why Ottawa is waiting two years to make seatbelts on new highway buses mandatory.

Documents obtained by The Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act show Transport Canada considered enacting the rule sooner following the April 6 tragedy involving the Humboldt Broncos.

The team was on its way to a playoff game when the bus and a semi-truck collided at a rural Saskatchewan intersection. Sixteen on board would die and 13 were injured. The truck driver faces dangerous driving charges.

Ottawa first proposed a seatbelt rule more than a year before the crash. The final regulation was announced earlier this month, but it won’t take effect until Sept. 1, 2020.

“Why wouldn’t they bring it in sooner rather than later?” said Russell Herold, whose 16-year-old son Adam was the youngest crash victim. ”If it would have saved one life, does that not benefit everyone?”

Internal documents show that in the days following the collision, Transport Canada was weighing whether to move more quickly on seatbelts.

“We’re taking a hard look at the coming-into-force date, and as soon as we can, we’ll provide a specific (question-and-answer document) on the risks/implications of accelerating this date,” Michael DeJong, director general of motor vehicle safety, wrote in an email to colleagues April 8.

The options included moving it up a year or having different in-force dates for large and medium buses.

Despite the Humboldt crash, Transport Canada decided to stick to the 2020 timeline.

“Bus manufacturers have expressed support for the proposed regulations, but have sought adequate lead time for implementation,” bureaucrats wrote in the document.

It said Transport Canada heard that provinces need time to address issues around bus driver liability for child-restraint systems, as well as on standing passengers and unbelted minors.

It also said there would need to be tests to ensure newly purchased buses comply with the regulation.

The new rule applies to newly built buses. Ones already in operation are under provincial and territorial jurisdiction.

Transport Canada says it assumes anywhere from 25 to 75 per cent of buses are already equipped with seatbelts and the overall cost to equip the remainder is expected to be less than $1 million a year.

It determined seatbelts would reduce the probability of fatalities in a collision by 77 per cent in the event of a rollover and by 36 per cent in other types of collisions.

“You’d have to think seatbelts would have done something. We’ve been told by the coroner that everyone was ejected from the bus,” said Herold.

“If you’re seatbelted in and your seat remains in the bus, you’re in a better situation than flying out onto the hard, frozen ground.”

READ MORE: Semi-truck driver charged in Humboldt Broncos bus crash

Lewis Smith of the Canada Safety Council said his organization was of two minds when it learned the new regulation won’t be in effect until 2020.

“On the one hand, we feel that this type of regulation is already long overdue, so the fact that it won’t go into place until September 2020 … at first blush, is a bit concerning,” he said.

But Smith also said the timeline makes sense because enforcing traffic rules is a provincial responsibility.

“We feel that this gap between the regulations being discussed and being implemented is important to give the provinces time to look at their legislation.”

The Herold family has filed a lawsuit that, among other things, seeks a declaration that all buses carrying sports teams in Saskatchewan be equipped with seatbelts and other safety devices.

Herold said the upcoming regulation is a good start, but he wants to know how authorities will make sure passengers actually wear them.

“You make it a law. You announce it when you get on the bus that seatbelts are required,” he said, comparing it to how everyone must buckle up on airplanes.

Herold suggested law enforcement officials could pull over buses to check that everyone was wearing seatbelts. Or belts could light up when buckled, making it visible to a driver that everyone was properly strapped in.

“I’m sure it can be enforced.”

Lauren Krugel, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Langley rollover crash slows traffic on 200 Street in Willoughby

Crews called to Monday afternoon collision involving two cars

VIDEO: Langley BMX racers propel pumpkins down their track

Once the standard race day was over, riders let a series of gourds roll down their Brookswood track.

Fort Langley wakes up to a flower bombing

A team from a village floral shop wanted to do a beautification project.

Abbotsford mom stuck in Africa over adoption delay

Kim and Clark Moran have been waiting four weeks to bring son home

Township mayor Jack Froese talks short- and long-term goals for third term

Tree bylaw, pot sales among topics that will need attention in coming months

B.C. sailor surprised by humpback whale playing under her boat

Jodi Klahm-Kozicki said the experience was ‘magical’ near Denman Island

Vancouver mayoral hopefuly admits defeat, congratulates winner Kennedy Stewart

Ken Sim of the Non-Partisan Association apologized for the time it took to acknowledge Stewart won

Mental fitness questioned of man charged in Chilliwack River Valley shooting

Peter Kampos told his lawyer ‘his dreams are being stolen and turned into drugs’ at Surrey Pre-trial

B.C. government moves to tighten resource industry regulations

New superintendent will oversee engineers, biologists, foresters

Election watchdog seeks digitally savvy specialists to zero in on threats

Move follows troublesome evidence of online Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election

More court before Dutch man charged in Amanda Todd case is extradited here

Appeals must be dealt with in Europe, before charges faced in B.C.

Crown says man guilty of B.C. girl’s 1978 murder based on alleged confession

Jury hears details of girl’s 1978 murder while Crown says man should be convicted of girl’s murder based on alleged confession.

Most Read