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Debate over safety after bus crash in Aberdeenshire leaves 19 school children injured

05 October 2010


A media storm has begun to rage in Scotland concerning whether or not double-decker buses are suitable to transport pupils to and from schools. The debate began after a bus carrying 34 schoolchildren overturned and ended up in a field near the town of Laurencekirk in Aberdeenshire. There were no casualties but six children were taken to hospital and 13 others received some medical treatment.

“Heavy rain and wind were believed to have been ‘a factor’ in the crash,” The BBC reported on 3 October. “Aberdeenshire Council acknowledged there had been concerns expressed by parents about the use of double-deckers on this route… The council also said all seats on the bus were fitted with seatbelts.”

“Parents are demanding answers after six children were taken to hospital and 13 others were treated for minor injuries after a bus with school pupils on board overturned into a field,” was The Scotsman’s lead into the story. “Aberdeenshire Council said parents had raised concerns about the use of double-decker buses on the route.” Bill Howatson, a Scottish Liberal Democrat councillor at Aberdeenshire Council, was then quoted by The Scotsman as saying: “I was acutely aware of parents’ concerns about this route and I will be seeking urgent answers from council officials and the bus operators.”

“Last night a leading north-east school bus safety campaigner called for urgent action to prevent a repeat,” Newcastle-based paper The Press and Journal observed on 6 October. “A probe is under way into the accident and parents have demanded to be told why a double-decker coach was being used on the twisting route in severe weather… a single-decker bus will cover the run from today until the conclusion of the investigation.”

“School bus safety campaigner Ron Beaty heard about the crash as he was about to address a conference at Holyrood on Saturday,” the paper added. “Mr Beaty, of Craigen Terrace, Gardenstown, became politically active after his granddaughter, Erin, was hit by a car as she stepped off a school bus in 2004. She now uses a wheelchair and requires 24-hour care.”

The complexities of safely transport children to school, and being seen to be safely transporting children to school, will be debated at the upcoming national school transport conference, produced in association with Local Transport Today, to be held in London on October 13. Find out more


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