How many children have to be hurt for laws to change?

THEY walked away with their lives - and he's glad they did - but a seatbelt campaigner says the Gladstone schoolchildren involved in a horror bus smash near Calliope this week have to be the catalyst for a law change.

National Road Safety Award winner Leon Hain continues to believe the state's seatbelt laws are out of date and a disaster waiting to happen.

He's a 79-year-old former pharmacist from Melbourne and has been campaigning for change to national legislation for a decade.

He watched the news with alarm as students were lucky to escape with only minor injuries when their school bus crashed on Taragoola Rd leaving Calliope on Monday morning.

Nine students were taken to Gladstone Hospital, including some of the children of parents who earlier this year were campaigning for seatbelts on that very bus route.

One campaigner hopes the school bus crash in Calliope will be the catalyst for change to seatbelt legislation:

Posted by The Observer on Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Mr Hain said seatbelts on bus routes needed to be mandatory; "it would be too late to say sorry after disaster strikes".

He said Queensland had slipped well behind after leading the way in the decade after the Federal Government implemented a reform in 1995 for seatbelts on rural school buses.

"In February 2005 (Queensland agreed) to comply... but restricted (the legislation) for hazardous roads," he said.

"(Queensland) is now the only state to ignore (the fact) most bus crashes resulting in death and horrific injuries occur at apparently 'safe' locations."

Seatbelts are in fact mandatory on 85 routes in Queensland that have been designated as "steep" or "very steep".

On all other routes - including the one where the crash happened - seatbelts are optional.

The minimum standard for the Taragoola Rd bus is it must be "rollover compliant" but does not require seatbelts.

Department of Transport and Main Roads assists operators to purchase new vehicles, if the old bus qualifies, but it was up to the operator to choose a bus with seatbelts.

Mr Hain said that wasn't good enough because seatbelts protected students when buses rolled or stopped suddenly.

"When a bus travelling at 70kmh crashes and stops suddenly, children continue on at 70kmh, it's basic physics," he said.

Member for Gladstone Glenn Butcher has since spoken with the premier and ministers about bus safety.

Topics:  bus bus accident bus crash road safety seatbelts

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