Letter: Safety on plane, coach and bus

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The Independent Online
Sir: In the light of recent accidents, the issue of seat belts in coaches and minibuses has rightly been a cause of much concern. One of the most disturbing features to emerge from the discussion is the Department of Transport's statement, referred to in Christian Wolmar's article ('Ministers 'dithering' on minibus seat belts', 17 May), that European Union regulations would prevent our government unilaterally requiring seat belts to be provided on all UK-operated coaches.

If this is correct, then it is analogous to the situation prevailing in air transport. We are informed that the Civil Aviation Authority is now prohibited by EU regulation - in the case of aviation, Regulation 3922/91 - from introducing safety improvements unilaterally to British-registered

aircraft.

Such improvements evidently have to be agreed by our European partners, a process that, not surprisingly, can be very protracted. So, some nine years after the tragic accident to a British Airways aircraft at Manchester in 1985, one of the most significant recommendations to come out of that accident remains 'on the shelf', despite the fact that the CAA itself would like to see it

implemented.

How did we ever allow ourselves to get into this situation? We are not opposed to European codes of practice, but we would expect these to represent minimum standards that should not prevent individual countries adopting higher standards if they so wish.

Yours faithfully,

JOHN RICKARD

Honorary Secretary

Air Safety Group

Woking,

Surrey

19 May

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