Campaigner to PM: would you let your own child ride on a highway bus without a seatbelt?

The government must share the blame for the fatal bus crash on Mt Ruapehu, says the car review website

Editor Clive Matthew-Wilson, who is an outspoken road safety campaigner, says:

“I challenge the prime minister to watch this graphic crash test which simulates a bus rolling over. The prime minister is a mother: would she feel comfortable with her own child travelling at highway speeds without the protection of a seatbelt?”[1]

Matthew-Wilson believes the current inquest into the Ruapehu accident is wrong to focus on errors made by the bus driver.

“Most road accidents start with driver error. Drivers shouldn’t make mistakes, but they do. The difference between surviving and not surviving a bus accident is generally whether or not the passengers are wearing seatbelts.” 

“There’s a strong chance these injuries and deaths would not have occurred in Germany, because all tourist buses must have seatbelts and all occupants must wear them.”

“New Zealand’s roads are particularly dangerous for buses, because they’re often narrow and winding; a perfect setup for a rollover accident.”

Matthew-Wilson, whose research into seatbelt upgrades for older vehicles was awarded by the Australian Police Journal, adds: “There’s no reason that older buses can’t be retrofitted with seatbelts, provided it’s done properly.”

Matthew-Wilson also wants the government to ban the import of buses without Electronic Stability Control. Electronic Stability Control (ESC/ESP) helps prevent a vehicle losing control in emergencies. ESC is already compulsory on cars, but is still optional on imported buses.

However, a 2012 study by the American government concluded that: “[If installed on heavy vehicles], we believe that ESC systems could prevent 40–56% of rollover crashes and 14% of loss-of-control crashes.”

Matthew-Wilson asks: 

“Stability Control has been compulsory on cars since 2015, yet new buses are still being sold without it. Why is this allowed?” 



[1] By law, infants must be carried in approved childseats. However, many childseats can be safely restrained with a seatbelt.


• Clive Matthew-Wilson has been actively campaigning on road safety and consumer issues for 25 years. Mentored by engineer Chris Coxon (former technical chair and founding member of the Australian New Car Assessment Program – ANCAP), Matthew-Wilson was the first person to publish crash test results in New Zealand. His research into seatbelt upgrades was awarded by the Australian Police Journal. Matthew-Wilson is a strong supporter of pedestrians’ and cyclists’ rights and has helped shape many major road safety policies in New Zealand.

Clive Matthew-Wilson was the founder of