23 May 2017

S5M-05655 Seat Belts on School Transport (Scotland) Bill: Stage 1

The Deputy Presiding Officer (Linda Fabiani): The next item of business is a debate on motion S5M-05655, in the name of Gillian Martin, on the Seat Belts on School Transport (Scotland) Bill at stage 1.

... ... ...

Stewart Stevenson (Banffshire and Buchan Coast) (SNP):

Sometimes we legislate to fix a problem; sometimes we legislate to prevent a problem; sometimes we legislate to reform or simplify; sometimes we legislate to create opportunity; and sometimes we legislate for the benefit of institutions or individuals. The reasons why we legislate are many and diverse—my list is far from complete. Each bill must stand on its merits or fall because of its shortcomings. The Seat Belts on School Transport (Scotland) Bill lies in the territory of fixing a problem and of preventing one. As a member’s bill, it is, of necessity, relatively limited in its scope.

Why this bill and why now? My late constituent Ron Beaty from Gamrie turned his attention to the safety of school transport after his granddaughter was severely affected by an accident after alighting from a school bus. I have met Ron Beaty’s granddaughter, and I met Ron not long before he died, as did Gillian Martin when she discussed the prospective bill with him.

Ron Beaty was one of those dogged campaigners that Scotland—perhaps Scotland in particular—throws up. He understood that there were no simple or quick solutions. For more than a decade, he attended Public Petitions Committee and other committee meetings and parliamentary debates—wherever road safety was being discussed. Even if the issue was likely to be given only procedural consideration, the odds were that Ron had made the journey of four-plus hours to Edinburgh to show us all that he was holding us to account.

The bill is not the limit of what Ron Beaty campaigned for but it is a useful part of it. The power to require the fitting of seat belts on school buses is one that we can now exercise, but it is currently beyond our powers to require the wearing of seat belts. However, because we can do only a little—because we cannot do all that we want to do—we should not choose to do nothing. We can and should persuade people to use seat belts. As we have been reminded in the past couple of days by one bus company, even when every bus is fitted with seat belts, we need legislation in place to maintain that for the future, for everyone, for ever.

Let us consider the value of seat belts in our road transport system. Members have already mentioned some of the relevant dates and I will not repeat them. However, I will say is that thousands of lives have been saved by seat belts. The United States Department of Transportation has estimated that, in one of the early years after seat belts were fitted there, 12,000 lives were saved.

I first fitted seat belts to my car in 1964, after seeing the brain damage suffered by a patient for whom I was a nurse. I have worn them from that day onwards. More recently, I came upon an urban collision at comparatively low-impact speed in which a driver had not been wearing a seat belt and was scalped. It was not a pretty sight. I could tell members more but I shall not.

We have all but normalised the wearing of safety hats by cyclists, which shows what can be done. We now need to achieve the same breakthrough in the wearing of seat belts on buses, which, according to a fully referenced Wikipedia article, became a legal requirement in the Czech Republic in 2004 and in Finland in 2006. It is also a legal requirement in France, Germany, Japan and—from last year—even Burma.

The relevant regulations are the Motor Vehicles (Wearing of Seat Belts) (Amendment) Regulations 2006. I had a quick look at them in light of remarks by Liam Kerr and Gail Ross. Regulation 3 appears to suggest that seat belts must always conform to regulations. I take it that seat belts therefore have to be kept in working order. They will be checked at the MOT—that is for sure—but there is a legal obligation to keep them in working order.

Like lots of legislation, legislation in this area is complex and amends other legislation. The regulations require the driver to tell passengers to wear their seat belt. They also require a blue sign on every seat. I have seen that sign many a time and did not know what it meant. I wonder whether it is particularly effective, but, again, it is something that needs to be done.

I very much welcome the bill and am happy to support its general principles. I wish the bill bon voyage.


Stewart Stevenson
does not gather, use or
retain any cookie data.

However Google who publish for us, may do.
fios ZS is a name registered in Scotland for Stewart Stevenson

  © Blogger templates The Professional Template by 2008

Back to TOP