Government of Canada and Government of British Columbia begin school bus seatbelt pilot tests

News release

September 10, 2020    Victoria (British Columbia)    Transport Canada

The safety of Canada’s road users is a priority for federal, provincial, and territorial governments, and that starts with the safe transportation of our school children.

Today, the Minister of Transport, the Honourable Marc Garneau, along with both B.C. Minister of Education, the Honourable Rob Fleming, and B.C. Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure, the Honourable Claire Trevena, jointly announced the start of a pilot project involving the use of seatbelts in school buses in two school districts in British Columbia.

The first phase begins immediately in the Fraser-Cascade school district. A second phase is anticipated to follow in January 2021 in the school district of Nanaimo-Ladysmith. 

The pilot project involves a limited number of new school buses, equipped with three-point seatbelts that follow the latest federal safety standards.

School buses are the safest way to transport an estimated 2.2 million Canadian children to school. In keeping with a recent report of the Task Force on School Bus Safety, Strengthening School Bus Safety in Canada, seatbelts are being examined as a potential way to further improve safety.

The need for pilots is based on the findings of the Task Force on School Bus Safety, a group comprised of federal / provincial / territorial representatives, and a range of school bus safety stakeholders.  There are number of operational considerations relative to seatbelt use, such as proper seatbelt adjustment and children moving around in their seats or unbuckling.

These pilot projects will help gather information needed for any future application of the use of seat belts, if needed.

The Fraser-Cascade pilot project is the first of its kind in Canada, and will help validate the Task Force’s Guidelines for the Use of Seatbelts on School Buses.


“I would like to commend the Government of British Columbia and the school districts involved for their leadership in joining with the Government of Canada to conduct this pilot project involving seatbelts on school buses. School buses are the safest way to transport children to and from school, but we are always looking at ways to make them even safer. This pilot is an important step in this direction.”  

Minister of Transport, the Honourable Marc Garneau

“We’re pleased to partner in a student safety pilot project that will provide new school buses equipped with seat belts and other safety features to Nanaimo-Ladysmith and Fraser-Cascade school districts,” said Rob Fleming, Minister of Education. “I look forward to the additional safety knowledge that will be gained from this pilot program.”

Minister of Education, the Honourable Rob Fleming
Government of British Columbia

Quick facts

  • Each day, Canadian children travel to and from school on 51,670 school buses.

  • School buses have an excellent safety record in Canada, owing largely to the extensive suite of protective safety features built into the bus (e.g. high roof crush standards, window retention, and compartmentalization – padded, high-backed seats, spaced closely together).

  • In January 2019, the federal, provincial, territorial Council of Ministers Responsible for Transportation and Highway Safety established a special Task Force to carefully examine the issue of school bus safety, both inside and outside the bus, with an emphasis on seatbelts.

  • In February 2020, the Task Force published its report on Strengthening School Bus Safety in Canada.

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Livia Belcea
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Marc Garneau
Minister of Transport, Ottawa

Media Relations
Transport Canada, Ottawa

Meribeth Burton
Communications Manager, Ministry of Education 
Government Communications & Public Engagement
236-478-1168 (work)
250-818-0293 (mobile)

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