School bus fleet so very old: Review of age limits prudent

IMAGINE the wave of panic and great anxiety that swept through a small community in north Cork on Monday when the news that a school bus carrying 52 secondary school students had run off the road in poor driving conditions.

Every parent with a child, or children, on that bus would have forgotten everything else and focussed on finding out how their loved one was. No matter how very calm parents were it is impossible to imagine that they did not have a few very nervous moments before the good news that there were no serious injuries became widely known. The relief must have been as exhilarating as it was exhausting.

The accident brought another issue to light though, and not for the first time. Though there is no suggestion that the bus involved in Monday’s mishap was anything other than completely roadworthy, it must at least raise a metaphorical eyebrow. It was registered in 1999 so it has something around 16 years of hard graft under its fanbelt. It is not in anyway unique in the school bus fleet which seems a departure lounge cum rest home for the very oldest busses on our roads. The school transport scheme is one of the great, opportunity sharing advances and it must be enhanced and protected.

However the fact that some car insurers refuse to cover cars more than 15 years old suggests that a review might be prudent. After all it would be criminal if children’s lives were in jeopardy because their school bus is past its best-by date.


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