Humboldt Broncos advocate for seatbelt use on team buses

The head coach of the Humboldt Broncos, Nathan Oystrick, said his team will push for seatbelt use on team buses after the deadly crash in the spring.
The head coach of the Humboldt Broncos, Nathan Oystrick, said his team will push for seatbelt use on team buses after the deadly crash in the spring. Kayle Neis / The Canadian Press

The head coach of the Humboldt Broncos says his Saskatchewan junior hockey team will push for seatbelt use on team buses after a deadly crash in the spring.

In a statement this week, the Broncos said their coaches, players and staff will buckle up not only when travelling to games but also in their day-to-day lives.

“Encouraging the use of seatbelts cannot be understated,” said Nathan Oystrick, who was hired as the coach and general manager in July. “Promoting seatbelt safety is a high priority for us.”

READ MORE: Humboldt Broncos visit bus crash memorial site

Seatbelt use on buses has been in the spotlight since April when a bus carrying the Broncos junior hockey team collided with a semi-truck in rural Saskatchewan. Sixteen people were killed – including 10 players and the team’s head coach – and another 13 were injured.

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Transport Canada announced in June that the department will require all newly built highway buses to have seatbelts by September 2020. Some charter bus companies say many of the new buses already have seatbelts but there is no way to ensure everyone is wearing them.

Seatbelt use falls under the jurisdiction of the provincial and territorial governments, and is enforced by police in each area. Many provinces and territories – including Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia – require motorists and passengers to wear seatbelts if they are provided.

In a brief interview, Oystrick said the team wants to advocate for seatbelt use.

“We’re wanting to be involved in the process and involved in some of the change,” he said Friday.

READ MORE: After Humboldt crash, B.C. MP plans motion to study mandatory seatbelts on coach buses

The statement from his team said they will be looking at various activities to promote seatbelt use that include education, media and public awareness through this hockey season and into the future.

Officials with the 12-team Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League, which includes the Broncos, said they’re encouraging players and coaches on all teams to wear seatbelts when they are provided.

“It’s just an education process,” said president Bill Chow. “By maybe just changing the culture and changing the thinking of anybody and everybody, maybe this becomes more of a habit.”

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“We can’t force anybody to wear them but, if we make them aware that it’s a law and as a league we are supporting this and encouraging this – that they wear it – that’s from our point of view, that’s what we can do.”

The focus on seatbelts comes after the parents of several Broncos players who died have called for mandatory use on all team buses.

A lawsuit filed by the parents of Adam Herold in July asked for a court order requiring all buses carrying sports teams in Saskatchewan to be equipped with seatbelts.

Earlier this month, the mom of Stephen Wack wrote an opinion piece that ran in newspapers across the country asking for shoulder harness belts on all coach buses, along with the need for legislation making it compulsory to wear them.

Tricia Wack concluded her opinion piece by asking people to buckle up for the Broncos and the hashtag #buckleupforthebroncos was born.

WATCH BELOW: University of Lethbridge rugby team launches seatbelt campaign

Click to play video 'University of Lethbridge rugby team launches seatbelt campaign' University of Lethbridge rugby team launches seatbelt campaign
University of Lethbridge rugby team launches seatbelt campaign

Another parent Toby Boulet, whose son Logan was killed in the crash, has made it a point to wear his seatbelt on the bus this season as the general manager of the Lethbridge Pronghorns women’s rugby team.

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His example led the team’s head coach, Neil Langevin, to challenge the rest of the team to make it a habit to wear their seatbelts.

All of the coaches and at least half of the players on the University of Lethbridge Pronghorns women’s rugby team are now buckling up when the bus has seatbelts available.