School bus safety - where to from here?
In 1999 ARRB Transport Research was commissioned by Austroads to review current practice and research in relation to school bus safety and to identify new or proven safety measures that may be used as part of a national approach to school bus safety. A key outcome of the study was the development of a draft National School Bus Safety Action Plan. The draft Action Plan, which recognised initiatives being implemented by jurisdictions across Australia at the time, sought to provide a set of countermeasures to reduce the incidence and severity of crashes involving school children associated with bus travel.
In 2001 Austroads established a School Bus Safety Advisory Group to identify and progress issues raised in the earlier study, including refining, prioritising and implementing the proposed draft Action Plan. ARRB was subsequently commissioned to assist in the review of the draft Action Plan.
Key tasks involved in the review included examining recent crash data, reviewing literature and recent developments pertaining to the safe travel of children in and around school buses and documenting the safety practices and initiatives implemented by in each jurisdiction across Australia. Based on research findings, the action items proposed in the draft Action Plan were reviewed and rated in terms of: (a) the priority and effectiveness of the action in addressing common causes of fatalities associated with school bus travel, and (b) the resources and ease of implementation associated with undertaking the activity. A Revised Action Plan that may assist jurisdictions to give priority to those measures, which address the most common cause of fatalities where the greatest gains can be made in school bus safety for children, has been drafted. This revised action plan is currently awaiting Ministerial approval.
This paper will present an overview of the key findings of this study and further report on the status of the Revised Action Plan.