[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Thursday, 4 January 2007, 12:56 GMT
Are the UK's coaches safe enough?
National Express coach in London
Coaches are the safest form of road travel in the UK, figures say
The death of two passengers in a coach near London has put bus safety in the spotlight.

But despite the fatal crash, coach travel is still the safest form of road transport in the country, according to the Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT).

Latest CPT figures show the number of fatalities, per one billion passenger kilometres travelled, is 17 for buses and coaches, 37 for cars and 1,500 for motorcycles.

Passengers are required by law to wear seatbelts, and it has been revealed those travelling on the National Express coach that crashed were warned about their legal position.

Simon Posner, director general CPT, said on Thursday: "I have spoken to National Express and they have told me that their driver had told passengers that they should put on seatbelts."

Individual's decision

All coaches first used on or after 1 October 2001 are required to have seatbelts fitted. Very few coaches driving on UK roads are without seatbelts, the CPT has confirmed.

Thankfully, accidents such as today's are very rare when it comes to coach travel
Simon Posner, Confederation of Passenger Transport

Under government regulations, coach operators have to notify passengers to use the belts, though it is the duty of individual passengers aged over 14 - and not drivers or operators - to ensure they use them.

The operator can inform passengers via the driver or through an audio-visual presentation.

Mr Posner said: "Thankfully, accidents such as today's are very rare when it comes to coach travel.

"More and more people are abiding by the seatbelt rules in coaches. Passengers now tend to treat coaches like planes and immediately belt up when they hear the seatbelt announcement."

National Express coach is taken away on the back of a lorry
Two people died in the crash and 10 were injured

A Department of Transport spokesman said: "We do encourage children travelling on coaches to wear seatbelts but at present there is no requirement on children under 14 to wear them.

"We are launching a consultation soon on how the law should be applied to passengers under 14 on coaches."

As well as seatbelts, UK coaches go through rigorous safety checks.

Coaches are given the equivalent of an MOT every month, a test which is far more detailed than ones faced by normal motor vehicles, the CPT said.

Drivers also make their own checks before journeys, ensuring hammers used to break glass in emergencies are in place and that the coach also has fire extinguishers.

The coach involved in Wednesday night's crash had two drivers.

Drivers follow strict rules about how long they are able to drive for without a break.

All coaches are fitted with a tachograph, which records how long a coach has been driven and at what speeds.

Couple from Skye injured in crash
04 Jan 07 |  Highlands and Islands


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific