NSW Government acts on initial bus safety recommendations


The NSW Government is working to improve safety on buses and coaches, accepting all 5 recommendations from the Bus Taskforce First Safety Report, that was ordered following the Hunter Valley tragedy.

The initial report addresses a number of key areas, including a new safety campaign to promote seatbelt usage and possible speed restriction mandates for school buses, as well as addressing risks for passengers standing on buses, travelling in speed zones over 80 km/h.

Transport for NSW has begun work to implement the recommendations, prioritising awareness around seatbelt compliance.

Immediately following the devastating bus incident in the Hunter Valley on 11 June 2023, the Transport Minister instructed the taskforce to expand its scope to examine the safety and regulatory arrangements of bus operations in NSW.

Transport for NSW will launch the new safety campaign from this week, aimed at educating passengers about the importance and legal requirements of wearing a seatbelt on a bus where one is available. Wearing a seatbelt doubles the chance of surviving a crash and reduces the risk of injury.

The campaign will initially appear on buses and coaches to ensure people buckle up when they travel. A second awareness campaign will appear later this year to coincide with peak holiday travel period.

The government looks forward to the findings of future reports, which will make further recommendations to address safety concerns that arose from the tragedy.

Recommendations from the First Safety Report of the Bus Industry Taskforce:

  1. That the NSW Government and Transport for NSW complete the current implementation of the NSW Rural and Regional Seatbelts Program as soon as possible.
  2. That a road safety campaign be implemented to promote compliance with seatbelt laws on buses, including by school children.
  3. That Transport for NSW consider how bus operators can be best assisted to comply with their obligation to inform passengers about the mandatory use of seatbelts. This could include additional guidance material, or regulatory or contractual amendments.
  4. That Transport for NSW conducts a thorough examination of the risks associated with standees on buses and explores potential risk mitigation approaches.
  5. That Transport for NSW consider whether the 80km/h rule for dedicated school bus services with standing passengers could be rolled out across all services and examine ways of reducing risks for standees on buses travelling over 80 km/h.

Read the full first safety report on the Transport for NSW website.

Minister for Transport Jo Haylen said:

“There is still work to be done when it comes to bus safety in NSW, but the NSW Government is taking an important step by accepting all 5 recommendations from the first bus safety report.

“My heart is with the families and community devastated by this tragedy. I’ve spoken to them personally and will continue to let their voices be heard as we work towards a safer future on our roads and public transport.

“I have asked Transport for NSW to ramp up vital work in raising awareness of the importance of seatbelt laws on buses, especially on school buses.

“We want everyone to remember that seatbelts save lives. If there is a seatbelt available on the bus you’re travelling on, you must use it.

“I want to thank the Bus Taskforce for leading the first phase of this important ongoing work on examining safety in the bus and coach industry.”

Minister for Regional Transport Jenny Aitchison said:

“The tragic bus accident in the Hunter Valley which happened just 5 minutes from my electorate of Maitland and sadly took the lives of ten beloved members of our community touched the lives of people across our nation and triggered an outpouring of grief and trauma.

“Not since the Clybucca bus accident in 1989 have we seen such a loss of life on our roads in a single incident. It strengthened my resolve to do all I can to reduce road trauma.

“The initial Bus Industry Taskforce First Safety Report is just the first step towards this goal and I welcome the recommendation that Transport complete the implementation of the Rural and Regional Seatbelts Program as soon as possible.

“I have met with some of the members of those families who tragically lost their lives and given them my commitment to work with all the affected families to do our best to make sure an incident like this never happens again.

“The grief, trauma and regret caused by these tragedies lasts a lifetime.”

Road safety advocate John Gaffney said:

“As someone impacted by the tragic crash in the Hunter Valley and someone passionate about road safety, I welcome this safety report and support the campaign to raise awareness about seatbelt use on buses.

“Wearing a seatbelt doubles the chance of surviving a crash and reduces the risk of injury. In NSW, each year, on average, 29 drivers and passengers are killed and around 79 seriously injured in crashes when not wearing available seatbelts. Many of these deaths and injuries could have been prevented if seatbelts had been worn.

“I also welcome the work transport officials in NSW are doing with the bus and coach industry to ramp up activities already being done to roll out seat belts on school buses and support the community and the bus industry in complying with seat belt laws.”

/Public Release. View in full here.