Parents take seatbelt campaign to Europe

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The Independent Online
Campaigners for improved safety on school coaches and minibuses are to seek European Commission backing in an attempt to get international action on seatbelt standards. As it was confirmed yesterday that the French coach which crashed on Monday killing three British teenagers had no seatbelts, Pat Harris, of the Belt Up School Kids (Busk) campaign, said parents needed to know that their children were secure when they went abroad.

Busk is preparing to go to Brussels for a series of meetings on coach safety being organised by Neil Kinnock, the European transport commissioner. The campaign wants European legislation to make seatbelts compulsory in all coaches and minibuses being used by children. In the interim, it wants the British legislation which made it compulsory for coaches and minibuses carrying children to have belts extended to cover British children travelling outside the country. "Just because they have left UK soil shouldn't mean you can abandon the requirement," Mrs Harris said.

David Bowes, the headmaster of St James's High School in Bolton, Lancashire, which suffered the tragedy, said the school policy was to use vehicles that had seatbelts, as was required by law in Britain. But the hired British coach broke down at the weekend and was replaced with a French one, driven by the same British driver. French coaches rarely have seatbelts.