Transport Canada may start testing the safety of tires commonly used on vehicles that transport students in New Brunswick to extracurricular activities.
But, at least for now, the Canadian agency has made no commitment in response to a two-year lobbying effort by some of the mothers of seven Bathurst High School basketball players who were killed in a January 2008 crash they contend could have been avoided had the bus been fitted with the right tires.
Investigators found that the vehicle’s brakes were faulty, the body was rusty and its tires were worn. New Brunswick’s Department of Education subsequently banned the use of the 15-passenger vans and replaced them with 21-passenger school buses.
The province’s current regulations say 15-21 passenger vans and buses can use all-season tires on the front axle and winter tires on rear axles. The group says winter tires should be used all around.
"We want Transport Canada to tell us which kind of tires are really the safest. And we’re waiting for the answer,” said Roland Haché, New Brunswick’s education minister.
Canada’s Transportation Minister Denis Landry said he welcomes the effort. “The U.S. Department of Transportation has been sharing information with Transport Canada about the use of these vehicles and their tire composition, given the highways, speed limits and weather conditions in which they travel," he said.