#aftermarket – Two mothers who fought for safe student transportation after their sons were killed in 15-passenger vans are calling a recent amendment to Canada’s Motor Vehicle Safety Act a “lasting legacy” that will change the way school boards, organizations, and the general public will view transportation of students and small groups in Canada.
Isabelle Hains of Bathurst, New Brunswick and Stella Gurr of Nanaimo, British Columbia announced today that the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Act has finally been amended to include the Multifunction School Activity Bus (MFSAB), making it a new and distinct definition under Canada’s Motor Vehicle Safety Act effective February 11, 2015.
The amendment was published in the Canada Gazette Part II on February 11, 2015 and has the support of all provincial/territorial governments.
“Multifunction School Activity Bus” means a school bus that is designed to pick up and drop off students under circumstances in which there is no need to control traffic.
These vehicles are built to the same high safety standards as the familiar yellow school buses but do not require the signal stop arm and flashing lights safety features (Canadian Motor Vehicle Safety Standard #108 and #131). MFSAB’s are meant for commuting passengers from point to point, rather than the repeated and frequent roadside pickup and drop off necessary to transport students to and from school.
ALTERNATIVE TO 15 PASSENGER VANS
The mothers say the introduction of the new definition provides school boards, commercial bus operators and the general public with an alternate choice of vehicle that offers a similar high safety standard as a yellow school bus.
Many school districts across Canada still use 15-passenger vans. The mothers are concerned that this may continue unless all the provinces and territories decide to use only yellow school buses and MFSAB’s to transport students to after school activities.
Prohibiting the use of 15-passenger vans for extra curricular activities is a provincial/territorial responsibility. They are asking for a mandatory Van Angels law across Canada that permits only yellow school buses or Multifunction School Activity Buses for students participating in after school activities.
“Like many other Canadians I knew nothing about the serious safety concerns associated with 15 passenger vans until my son was killed,” says Hains. “I had to educate myself and had to push and fight for changes to safe student transportation.”
Hains says “Parents with children in the school system need to know there is now an alternative to 15 passenger vans that is built to the high yellow school bus standard.”
Gurr adds that with the new definition there should be no confusion when consumers want to be sure that they are purchasing a type of vehicle that meets very strict US and Canadian Motor Vehicle Safety Standards for a school bus body build.
“It will be clearly identified on the vehicle certification label; ‘School Bus’ or ‘MFSAB’,” says Stella Gurr.
The mothers have been working with Transport Canada since September 2010, when they met with Federal Transport Minister Chuck Strahl and his provincial and territorial transport ministers in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
At the time, Mr. Strahl promised to consider their request to recognize the Multifunction School Activity Bus (MFSAB) as a sub-category of a ‘school bus’ under the Motor Vehicle Safety Act.
Since 2010 the Van Angel mothers has managed to accomplish a review of the 15-passenger van for student transportation and national distribution of a brochure called Safety Guidelines for the use of 15-Passenger Vans, as well as the introduction of the MFSAB in the Motor Vehicle Safety Act.