From 1 August 2018, dedicated school transport in Scotland must be fitted with seat belts for children. Connect, as Scottish Parent Teacher Council, has been campaigning for this since the 1990s.
On 1 August the Seat Belts on School Transport (Scotland) Act 2017 comes into force. Transport Scotland has produced guidance here, which we have broken down for you below.
The new law will cover ‘home-to-school transport’ and ‘school trip transport.’ These are the services arranged by the school or the local authority/council to take pupils to and from their homes to places they receive education, or from the school to other education locations such as school trips or colleges.
There are some exceptions to the new law. Unfortunately services which carry both pupils and the public do not have to have fitted seatbelts.
There are also medical conditions where doctors have issued a certificate saying the pupil should be exempt from wearing a seatbelt. These pupils need to keep these certificates on their persons in case the police make a check.
But while school buses now must have seatbelts, of course that doesn’t mean pupils will actually wear them! Partnerships between schools, parents, bus companies and the young people themselves are critical to make sure pupils understand how important it is to wear a seat belt.
Wherever there is a seatbelt, it should be worn. This is to prevent children from getting injured, but also to keep them from getting into trouble by being reported to the school for not wearing it.
Parents should encourage their own children to wear seatbelts, while Parent Councils may want to consider taking up an awareness campaign to spread the message.
Connect welcomes this step towards making sure all children traveling to school have access to, and use, seat belts. However, there is still a lot to do.