The owner of the Charlottetown-based Maritime bus service is considering installing seatbelts in his fleet.
Mike Cassidy, who owns Maritime Bus, told The Guardian on Thursday that it’s a complicated issue.
One of his buses was involved in an accident in Travellers Rest recently where high winds caused a motor coach bus to slide off the road, tipping over onto its side. No one was seriously hurt in the accident although reports have surfaced since that some of the 33 passengers ended up with more than just scrapes and bruises.
One woman told The Guardian in an email that her sister suffered a concussion after being thrown from her seat.
Cassidy said the issue of seatbelts is one he’s been giving some thought to, even before the accident. The last four buses he has purchased are equipped with seatbelts.
“I cannot enforce the use of the seatbelt but it’s there,’’ Cassidy said. “It’s an option (going forward).’’
His plans are to examine whether the seatbelts on the buses he has now are being used. The Maritime Bus fleet is comprised of 45 motor coaches.
Cassidy has one big concern when it comes to seatbelts.
“I have a vision where we have a fire on board and we have everybody strapped in to a seatbelt. A fire can go through a bus in less than five minutes. What happens in a panic when people are trying to push the (seatbelt) release button and because of anxiety and panic you’re not pushing properly or something happens where the seatbelt won’t release mechanically?’’
He said buses are designed to handle a head-on collision with seats that break in half, protecting passengers.
Cassidy said bus drivers don’t want the responsibility of enforcing seatbelt usage if government were to ever make it mandatory.
“Drivers don’t want to be responsible. He’s got 55 people aboard.’’
The issue of seatbelts on buses is also being discussed across Canada following the accident in Oregon. Nine people were killed and 38 injured when a Vancouver-bound bus left the highway and plunged 60 metres down an embankment. Many of the passengers were thrown from the bus.
Cassidy said he’s not going to wait for government to make a decision on seatbelts. He’ll do his own research and go from there.