Casey Brown, 19, was killed when a bus he was riding on veered off Shute Harbour Rd and rolled on February 16, 2016.
Casey Brown, 19, was killed when a bus he was riding on veered off Shute Harbour Rd and rolled on February 16, 2016.

Coroner questions disparity over seatbelt regulations

A Mackay coroner has questioned why there were regulations that required buses carrying school kids on high risk roads to be fitted with seatbelts, but not those carrying the general public on the same roadway.

Tafe student Casey Stinson-Brown, 19, died in a fatal bus rollover while travelling between Cannonvale and Proserpine on February 16, 2016.

RELATED:

AIRBORNE: 'They were thrown about inside the bus'

The Whitsunday Transit bus he was riding was not required to have seatbelts. When the bus rolled down a grassy culvert, most of the 10 passengers and the driver were flung from their seats.

Tragically Mr Stinson-Brown died as a result of his injuries.

Casey Brown was killed in a fatal Whitsunday bus crash in 2016.
Casey Brown was killed in a fatal Whitsunday bus crash in 2016.

 

Mackay Coroners Court heard the Department of Transport and Main Roads had classified Shute Harbour Rd where the fatal bus crash occurred as an environment 2-type roadway.

Steep roads like the Eton, Sarina and Eungella Ranges are classified as environment 3 roads.

The court heard recommendations handed down in 2001 - with links to a 1987 fatal school bus crash on the Gillies Range in Far North Queensland that killed eight children - pushed for "every bus operating" on E2 and E3 roadways to be fitted with seatbelts by 2017.

More stories:

Meet the Central Queensland landowner taking on Bravus

'Overkill': Father breaks driver's nose over water spray

In Queensland, currently only buses carrying schoolchildren on E3 roads are required to have seatbelts.

The court heard a bus carrying the general public on the same E3 road was not required to have seatbelts - but if there were seatbelts passengers must wear them.

"Why do schoolchildren get the protection of the seatbelt where the ordinary citizen doesn't?" Coroner David O'Connell queried TMR expert witness Nigel Ellis.

"I just wanted to know why there would be a difference in the regulation."

The scene of the fatal bus crash at Cannon Valley on Shute Harbour Road.
The scene of the fatal bus crash at Cannon Valley on Shute Harbour Road.

 

Mr Ellis said some of the reasons might be "practicality, cost … engineering considerations".

Mr O'Connell also queried whether or not it was the intention of the committee who handed down the 2001 recommendations that "all buses on E2 routes would have seatbelts".

"It appears at the time that was the intention," Mr Ellis said, adding he could not say what happened between then and now.

Mr O'Connell asked for these matters to be addressed further in the closing statements.

The court heard testimony in relation to retrofitting existing buses with seatbelt compliant seats.

More stories:

Bowen man appeals jail term over child sex crimes

Coroner finds mine death 'a tragic accident'

TMR expert engineer Adam Shaw, who gave evidence on Tuesday afternoon, said there would be a significant cost attached and capacity would be severely reduced.

An example was given in relation to a wheelchair accessible route bus that had capacity for 91 passengers that included both seated and standing.

Mr Shaw said necessary modifications to make seating seatbelt compliant would result in capacity being reduced by 65.

Mr Shaw said the buses would also need to be fitted with appropriate wheelchair restraints.

The court heard seatbelts were manufactured to suit "the 95th percentile" meaning there would be 5 per cent of people not suitable to use the seatbelts.

The final witness will give evidence on Wednesday morning.

Subscriber benefits:

How to activate your free Courier-Mail subscription

How to get Daily Mercury news straight to your inbox

Your dose of Harry Bruce cartoons


NQ’s top tourism towns revealed

Premium Content NQ’s top tourism towns revealed

Three North Queensland towns have made the list of finalists for Queensland’s Top...

High-tech satellite rain gauges to improve CQ rainfall data

Premium Content High-tech satellite rain gauges to improve CQ rainfall data

Central Queensland graziers are some of 20 across the state to trial the new...

Whitsunday towns finalists in state’s best tourism centres

Premium Content Whitsunday towns finalists in state’s best tourism centres

Queensland’s Top Tourism Town award is up for the taking and these two towns are...