Letter: Safer transport for schoolchildren

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The Independent Online
Sir: Lucy Hodges ('No overtaking over there', 7 July) is correct in saying that school transport in the US has an excellent safety record. However, despite recent accidents, the same can still be said of UK provision. And the US system, like ours, has its problems. Illegal overtaking of school buses remains a major concern. Standards also vary widely between states and districts.

A point which Ms Hodges failed to make is that the main safety benefit of the US system is that approximately half of all children receive school transportation. In the UK, the figure is only 15 per cent. As a result, far fewer American children travel to or from school on foot, cycle, or by car - modes which statistically do not have such a good record either here or in the US when compared to buses.

The real issue is that UK school transport is inadequately funded. On average the US spends the equivalent of more than dollars 200 ( pounds 130) per year for every child, compared with under pounds 60 for each child in the UK.

We can learn much from the US, and other countries, in terms of school transport safety. Improvements can and should be made - but we should not lose sight of what is being achieved by many authorities in very different financial circumstances here in the UK.

Yours faithfully,

SIAN THORNTHWAITE

Epsom, Surrey

7 July

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