A FIT­TING ME­MO­RIAL FOR THE HUM­BOLDT BRON­COS IS TO MAKE BUSES SAFER

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The sched­ule for the Saskatchewan Ju­nior Hockey League has been posted, and the Hum­boldt Bron­cos are set to open their sea­son against their great ri­vals the Ni­pawin Hawks next month.

The last time those teams were set to play was a Fri­day in April but, as Cana­di­ans know all too well, the Bron­cos never made it to that play­off game.

Six­teen play­ers and sup­port­ers were killed and 13 in­jured when the Bron­cos’ team bus and a trans­port truck col­lided at a ru­ral Saskatchewan in­ter­sec­tion.

Now there are new play­ers, with new dreams. But it’s a sea­son that, un­doubt­edly, will be heavy with the mem­o­ries of loss.

There’s plenty miss­ing this

sea­son, in­clud­ing safer travel for the team, and oth­ers.

That’s why Rus­sell Herold, whose 16-year-old son Adam was the youngest vic­tim in that tragic crash, is rais­ing con­cerns about why more hasn’t been done to make buses safer.

His frus­tra­tion is un­der­stand­able. There’s been talk about im­prov­ing bus safety since long be­fore his son was even born.

As it stands now in Canada,

there are no reg­u­la­tions that re­quire coach buses to have seat­belts. And for buses that do have seat­belts, there are no rules requiring pas­sen­gers to wear them.

Ex­perts have been dis­cussing pos­si­ble safety reg­u­la­tions for high­way coaches for decades, and Ot­tawa fi­nally pro­posed a seat­belt rule — more than a year be­fore the Hum­boldt Bron­cos tragedy.

And yet, even now, there’s no sense of ur­gency.

Through an ac­cess to in­for­ma­tion re­quest, the Cana­dian Press found that Trans­port Canada of­fi­cials dis­cussed mak­ing seat­belts manda­tory on new buses im­me­di­ately af­ter the hor­rific crash in April. But ul­ti­mately they de­cided not to speed things up.

So, reg­u­la­tions mak­ing seat­belts manda­tory on new high­way buses won't take ef­fect un­til Sept. 1, 2020. That’s two years from now. Herold, of course, can’t help but think about what might have been if there had been seat­belts on his son’s bus.

“You’d have to think seat­belts would have done some­thing,” he has said. “We’ve been told by the coroner that ev­ery­one was ejected from the bus.”

In­deed, Trans­port Canada es­ti­mates seat­belts would re­duce the prob­a­bil­ity of fa­tal­i­ties in a bus col­li­sion by 77 per cent in rollovers and by 36 per cent in other types of col­li­sions.

So what’s the holdup?

AS IT STANDS NOW IN CANADA, THERE ARE NO REG­U­LA­TIONS THAT RE­QUIRE COACH BUSES TO HAVE SEAT­BELTS.

LIAM RICHARDS/THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

Hockey sticks and mes­sages at the in­ter­sec­tion of the bus crash that killed 16 Hum­boldt Bron­cos play­ers and sup­port­ers in April.

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