VICTORIA -- Transport Canada is rolling out a new seatbelt pilot project aboard school buses in two B.C. school districts, starting this year.

The federal government is launching the first phase of the pilot project immediately in the Fraser-Cascade school district in the province’s Lower Mainland. It will then begin the second phase of the experimental safety initiative in the Nanaimo-Ladysmith school district in January 2021.

The two regions will be the first school districts across Canada to outfit a limited number of new school buses with three-point seatbelts.

The seat belt initiative is not being launched country-wide because further study is needed, according to the federal government.

Transport Canada says that seatbelts can negatively impact safety if they are not used or installed correctly. The organization adds that it is more complicated to ensure that seatbelts are properly used in 70-passenger school buses compared to regular five or seven-passenger vehicles.

The upcoming pilot project will allow the School Bus Safety task force – which is made up of federal, provincial and school bus safety stakeholders – to review how the seatbelts are used on school buses and if any adjustments need to be made.

“We’re pleased to partner in a student safety pilot project that will provide new school buses equipped with seatbelts and other safety features to Nanaimo-Ladysmith and Fraser-Cascade school districts,” said B.C. Minister of Education Rob Fleming in a release Thursday.

“I look forward to the additional safety knowledge that will be gained from this pilot program,” he said.

Approximately 2.2 million Canadian children ride one of 51,670 school buses across the country each day, according to Transport Canada.