A Cambridgeshire coroner has written to the government highlighting concerns that some buses used on long-distance routes are not fitted with seatbelts.  

Simon Milburn, an area coroner for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, raised the issue following a fatal crash on the A47 between a double-decker bus and a lorry.  

It happened at Wisbech St Mary on the morning of June 26, 2018.  

Two men – the bus driver Michael Elcombe and a passenger Brian Chapman – were both pronounced dead at the scene. Other passengers were also injured.  

In a Prevention of Future Deaths Report sent to the Department for Transport, Mr Milburn said he heard evidence during Mr Chapman’s inquest that some buses are exempt from having passenger seatbelts fitted.  

He said: “One of the two vehicles involved in the collision was a double-decker service bus travelling a scheduled route between Peterborough and Norwich, a distance of approximately 80 miles.  

“The bus was not fitted with passenger seatbelts.  

“I heard evidence that although since [October 2001] seatbelts are required to be fitted in all new buses ... there is an exemption where such vehicles are designed for urban use with standing passengers.” 

He added: “Whilst this particular route required the bus to travel from/to and stop off in 5-6 urban centres the majority of the journey took place on a major A-route through rural areas. 

“The speed of the bus at the point of collision was approximately 53mph... Whilst there was no evidence that either death would have been prevented by the wearing of seatbelts a number of other passengers were injured in the collision.” 

He added: “I am concerned where buses are undertaking journeys such as this through predominantly rural locations and subject to the national speed limit without seatbelts being required there is an obvious risk of death to passengers if collisions occur, particularly at high speed.” 

The Department of Transport had to respond to Mr Milburn’s report by March 25.