Ministers met this week to discuss options to improve safety of schoolchildren on buses and agreed to set up a project to take this forward.
Transport Minister, Michelle McIlveen hosted a meeting with the Education and Environment ministers to discuss potential measures to improve safety getting on and off buses including awareness raising; legislation and enforcement to minimise risks.
Ministers recognised that there were challenges but agreed that officials from all three departments should work together to deliver a range of proposals which would help improve safety for schoolchildren and potentially other bus users.
Michelle McIlveen said: “I invited Ministers John O’Dowd and Mark H Durkan to this meeting as I believe we must do everything we can to protect children and other groups when travelling on buses.
“Currently pupils travel to school on a variety of buses including: Translink services specifically for school children; Education Authority buses, private operator services and Translink general services. Not all these buses will have flashing signs which indicate to motorists that children are on board. Even where the bus is clearly highlighted we can do more to improve safety.
“I am very pleased that Ministers O’Dowd and Durkan share my concerns and have agreed we should work together on this.”
Education Minister, John O’Dowd said: “The safety of children is of the upmost importance to me and I support any practical measures that can help improve their safety. Last year my Department introduced additional safety measures on new school buses, including enhanced signage to alert road users of children disembarking school buses.
“I will continue to work closely with ministerial colleagues to examine proposals for how we can further improve safety for pupils travelling on buses.”
Environment Minister Durkan added: “I am keen to explore anything further we might collectively do to prepare and protect our children as road users, and ensure that children are able to travel to and from school, and beyond, by whatever mode, as safely as possible. This work should complement the advice and guidance my Department already provides to schools in relation to road safety matters.”