Canadian Province Makes Winter Tyres on School Buses Mandatory
Two years after a school-owned van travelling without winter tyres fitted on all wheels collided with a truck in the snow, the New Brunswick government in Canada has made the fitment of these cold weather tyres upon its fleet of multi-function activity buses mandatory. Seven members of the Bathurst High School boys basketball team died in the January 2008 collision, and in the absence of official tests being conducted by the province into the safety of summer tyres in winter, the parents of three of the boys had arranged to have the tyre configurations currently used on activity buses in the province's schools privately tested in Michigan. The tests were scheduled to take place on February 24, the day after New Brunswick announced its new tyre rule.
“The Government of New Brunswick now requires all winter tyres for its fleet of multi-function activity buses (MFABs) during the winter. The new policy is based upon tests completed by Transport Canada that showed this was the safest option,” the New Brunswick government stated in a release. “Last month, the province asked Transport Canada to perform tests on MFABs at highway speeds to determine the safest configuration of tyres for these vehicles.
In the absence of national testing for MFABs, New Brunswick had followed the advice of an independent consultant and two leading tyre manufacturers and had been using four winter tyres on the back and two ribbed, all-season tyres on the front.”
“There was not a national precedent to follow for these vehicles,” commented New Brunswick Transportation minister Denis Landry. “Given that vehicle testing is a federal responsibility, and we were facing differing opinions on what tyres should be used, we felt MFABs and their tyre usage should be examined, especially at higher speeds.”
Transport Canada conducted four comparisons with the 21-passenger MFABs using 16-inch tyres and driving at highway speeds, using all winter tyres and then using two ribbed all season tyres on the front.
“Transport Canada has advised that the MFABs perform and manoeuvre better with six winter tyres,” continued Landry. “Therefore, New Brunswick is making winter tyres mandatory on these vehicles. I commend Transport Canada for working with us to help inform all jurisdictions on the safest tyre configuration for MFABs.” Landry said his department has invested more than CA$5,000 ordering 28 winter tyres for 14 MFABs operated by the New Brunswick government.
New Brunswick Education Minister Roland Haché said the government is delivering on its commitment to implement Transport Canada’s recommendation. “Ensuring student safety is our number one priority,” said Hache. “Now that a clear federal recommendation – one that takes into account the specific vehicle, its use, our climate, travel routes and speed limits – is in place, we will take immediate action to ensure our MFABs are equipped with six winter tyres.”
The testing that had been scheduled for February 24 was to have been carried out free of charge by Continental Tires. It had been arranged by Isabelle Hains, Marcella Kelly and Ana Acevedo, mothers of three of the January 2008 crash victims, who believed they were not getting the answers they needed from the province about which tyre combination is safest.