Canterbury principal whose students survived deadly school bus crash calls for compulsory seatbelts

A north Canterbury high school principal is driving calls for seatbelts to be compulsory on school buses.

Six Rangiora High students are lucky to be alive after the bus they were in was involved in a deadly collision with a car earlier this month.

Every weekday tens of thousands of students jump on the bus for a ride to and from school. 

But two weeks ago that journey took a deadly turn.

"There was a big boom pretty much and I was thrown into another seat," year 11 student Jacob Shatford said.

"My eyes were closed so I didn't know what much had happened and I opened my eyes to be on a pile of glass," year 9 student Selwyn Trembath said.

The school bus the Rangiora High students were on collided with a car at an intersection, killing the two occupants.

Remarkably no students were seriously injured or killed.

"God gave us a second chance," Selwyn said.

While emergency services were en route, Jacob and Selwyn helped care for the other crash victims.

"I mean we're told to click all the time to save our lives. But we're okay with our children not having to do that on a bus. It just makes no sense," Rangiora High School principal Bruce Kearney said.

Just last year, the New South Wales government finished installing seatbelts on more than 2000 regional school buses. It cost over $250 million

In New Zealand, bus companies tender for school contracts. Because seatbelts aren't required by law, it's not financially viable for companies to install them on their own.

"It's a combination of Government's expectations, schools' expectations, parents' expectations and somebody has to pay," Kearney said.

Minister of Transport David Parker wasn't available for an interview but the Ministry told Newshub: "Buses are safer than other forms of road transport, because the impact of a crash is more likely to be absorbed by the larger mass of a bus."

"[It has] considered retrofitting seatbelts to buses, but has found that the cost would be prohibitive."

"At the end of the day my bus was driving on the motorway along with other cars so why aren't there seatbelts on there when there are seatbelts in cars," year 13 student Grace Leen said.

As these students are well aware, it could so easily cost much more.