The Commission statement conceded the claim - which it earlier denied - by Robert Key, the Roads Minister, that Britain is prevented from introducing its own regulations. It said: 'The accident underlines once again the urgent need to agree at community level the mandatory inclusion of safety belts in all sitting positions in coaches.'
The commission said that while Britain could pass a law it could neither force local bus operators to comply nor apply it to buses from other EU countries.
Dr Susan Brooks, of the Kent and Canterbury hospital, who treated the victims at the roadside, said yesterday: 'They would have stood a better chance of survival if these people had been restrained in their seats and stayed inside the coach. The framework of the coach did not collapse.'
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