Dáil Éireann - Volume 618 - 03 May, 2006
Written Answers. - Road Safety.
Mr. Crowe Mr. Crowe
Mr. Crowe asked the Minister for Transport the steps which have been taken by his Department regarding the road safety issues arising from the recent tragic school bus accident in Clara, County Offaly. [16172/06]
Mr. Cuffe Mr. Cuffe
Mr. Cuffe asked the Minister for Transport if the bus driver involved in the fatal crash in County Offaly in April 2006 was driving on a provisional licence; if his Department has been provided with evidence of insurance of the vehicle; if he has satisfied himself that appropriate checking and enforcement measures are in place to regulate commercial bus operators; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16280/06]
Ms Shortall Ms Shortall
Ms Shortall asked the Minister for Transport the outcome of his Department’s investigations into the school bus crash in County Offaly in March 2006; and the legislative, regulatory or enforcement changes he is proposing as a result of this accident. [16211/06]
Mr. Connaughton Mr. Connaughton
Mr. Connaughton asked the Minister for Transport the actions he intends to take in relation to the recent school bus tragedy in Clara,  County Offaly; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16259/06]
Mr. Cullen Mr. Cullen
Mr. Cullen:I propose to take Questions Nos. 85, 119, 131 and 135 together.
The Garda Síochána is investigating fully the circumstances surrounding the tragic bus incident in Co. Offaly on 4 April 2006. In carrying out the investigation, I am conscious that the gardaí will be examining whether a breach of the road traffic law or road transport law contributed to this incident. I am also conscious of the possibility that legal proceedings might be instituted following the completion of the Garda investigation. Therefore it would be wholly inappropriate for me to comment on the accident at this stage and I do not propose to do so. However, I wish to assure the House that my Department will co-operate fully with the gardaí in their investigation in connection with this incident and will have regard to the outcome of such investigations for regulation an enforcement of road traffic and road transport law.
I should point out that an extensive range of requirements relating to the vehicle, driver and operator must be satisfied in order to use a bus in a public place.
All buses are required to comply with statutory requirements relating to the construction, equipment and use of vehicles as set out in the Road Traffic (Construction, Equipment and Use of Vehicles) Regulations 1963 to 2002, the Road Traffic (Construction and Use of Vehicles) Regulations 2003 to 2004 and the Road Traffic (Lighting of Vehicles) Regulations 1963 to 1996. These regulations set down the requirements in relation to basic matters such as brakes, steering, lighting, etc. Safety standards applied under these regulations relate, inter alia, to maximum passenger accommodation, overall vehicle weight and axle weight limits and the fitment of speed limiters. Notwithstanding the general speed limits that apply to vehicles, single deck buses are subject to a maximum speed limit of 80 km/h with double deck buses subject to a maximum speed of 65 km/h. All buses over 1 year old are liable to annual roadworthiness testing.
It is a matter for licensed operators to ensure that all of the vehicles in their fleet comply fully with the appropriate licensing requirements. Any bus operator who acquires new or replacement vehicles must have those vehicles authorized on their licence before they can be legally operated as part of their passenger transport business. A list of licensed operators is available on the Department’s website at www.transport.ie together with an advice notice for persons engaging bus operators.
While the Garda Síochána are stepping up enforcement of road traffic and road transport law generally, the number of Transport Officers  in my Department is being increased from 9 to 18 this year.
Dáil Éireann 618 Written Answers. Road Safety.