The Road Safety Authority (RSA ) has just announced that it is now a legal requirement that private buses involved in the organised transport of children be fitted with appropriate and fit for purpose safety belts or restraint systems as of October 31.
This applies to the transportation of a group of three or more children where transporting the children is the primary reason for the journey. This includes school transport bus services, school trips or organised outings such as sporting or social events, etc.
It does not include the transport of children on bus services offered to the general public (ie scheduled urban or inter-urban bus services ). Indeed that should be the next target of the RSA in this regard - a certain number of seats in each public bus should have safety belts fitted too.
Indeed, buses involved in the Department of Education’s School Transport Scheme have been required to be fitted with safety belts since January 2007.
Schools, sports clubs, and other organisations or individuals engaged in hiring or contracting bus services for the organised transport of children should ensure that the vehicle used is fitted with safety belts and that these safety belts meet the required standards.
The majority of buses in the national fleet should have documentation to show that their safety belts or restraint systems meet the required standards. This is due to the additional requirement, introduced in October 2010, as part of the roadworthiness test, where owners of buses have been required to present certification showing that the vehicle’s safety belts were installed to an acceptable standard.
It remains the legal responsibility of the bus owner and driver to ensure that their vehicle, and all its components, is in such a condition that no danger is likely to be caused to any person. This includes having the correct certification for the safety belts or restraint systems.