School bus safety improvements and seatbelts

School bus services in Victoria have an excellent safety record. They remain the safest form of travel for children to and from school.

Past research found that students were at most risk on their commute when getting on and off buses. Improvements in key areas have addressed this.

They include:

  • Safety fences and student assembly areas around school bus pick up and drop off points
  • Greater visibility
  • Widened road shoulders, so buses can stop clear of other traffic, and
  • An education campaign – Stay Safe Around the Bus Stop

These improvements have assisted in the prevention of incidents near school buses.

PTV is working towards fitting seatbelts on all dedicated free school buses. This will further improve the safety of students when travelling to and from school.

Since July 2013, all new dedicated free rural and regional school buses are being fitted with seatbelts.

To fit seatbelts on school buses as quickly and efficiently as possible, PTV is replacing at least 90 dedicated free school buses each year.

Since July 2013 there have been 763 replacement buses approved. Of those replaced, 668 have been delivered and are fitted with seatbelts, with another 95 confirmed ordered with seatbelts.

This program has lifted seatbelt rates from 43 per cent to 80 per cent, greatly improving the safety of school buses on the road.

There are now 1092 of 1,359 (as at June 2021) dedicated free regional school buses across Victoria with seatbelts installed.

Responsibilities for students wearing seatbelts

Once seatbelts are fitted on a school bus, all students must wear their seatbelt.

It is not proposed to alter existing legislation and policies about the use of seatbelts. The responsibilities that apply to school buses with seatbelts fitted will continue to live at local levels. An education program will also highlight the safety aspects and good practice of using seat belts whenever they are available.

Bus drivers will continue to be exempt from monitoring or enforcing passengers to wear seatbelts.

Booster seats

Consistent with current practices in Victoria, decisions about the use of booster seats will continue at local levels.

Parents and carers, in consultation with principals and bus operators, are responsible for making decisions about the suitability of the seatbelts fitted on the vehicle for their child.