Vulnerable children must be given adequate protection

PUBLISHED : Monday, 19 November, 2001, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 19 November, 2001, 12:00am

I refer to the letter from H. L. Cheng, for the Commissioner for Transport, headlined 'No proof belt-up policy would help children' (South China Morning Post, November 15).

I take umbrage at Mr Cheng's comment that the benefits of seat belts on school buses have not been proved.

My experience may help Mr Cheng to recognise the need for seat belts for vulnerable schoolchildren.

Like many children in Hong Kong, my three-year-old daughter has to travel a long way to and from school. Each trip takes around 45 minutes. This means she has to wake up early to catch the morning school bus. She is in school for half a day and then gets back on the same school bus. By then she is tired and falls asleep.

In September, while she was on the way home, the bus made a wide turn and she fell on the floor. She sustained a laceration on her forehead and was rushed to the emergency ward of the nearest hospital. She had to be given three stitches and it took two weeks for her to recover.

Accidents like this are foreseeable and preventable. I am convinced that if my daughter had been wearing a seat belt she would not have fallen and hurt herself.

I understand that the Government is taking a 'step-by-step approach' with its seat-belt legislation. However, when deciding which kinds of vehicles must be next with mandatory seat-belt laws, surely priority must be given to schoolchildren. While adults might be more vigilant and resilient, so there is less likelihood of them falling off a bus seat, children are more vulnerable.

I urge our policymakers not to neglect children's needs. They must be given the necessary protection.


Tsuen Wan