Truck-bus crash 'left kids traumatised'

Schoolchildren involved in a bus crash ahead of what was meant to be the "trip of a lifetime" were traumatised by the incident, a court has been told.

Truck driver Brett Michael Russell, 60, of Croydon appeared in Melbourne Magistrates Court on Monday evening charged with 46 offences over the crash.

The accident resulted in a school bus rolling down an embankment off the Western Highway at Pentland Hills, west of Melbourne.

More than 30 people were involved in the crash, with injuries ranging from bruising to those requiring an almost total foot amputation.

The speed limit in the area had been reduced to 40km/h because of an unrelated collision the night before.

Police allege Russell decided to ignore the warning signs that the truck he was driving was losing braking capacity, before it collided with the rear of the school bus on September 21 last year.

The 27 children aboard were from Ballarat's Loreto College, and bound for the airport on the way to the US for a NASA space camp.

While some had recovered, the mental trauma of being involved in the crash at what should have been the start of a "trip of a lifetime" could not be underestimated, Detective Senior Constable Holly Gibson said.

She noted some of the children previously caught the bus to school, and suggested seatbelts likely prevented passengers from dying in the crash.

The truck driver was on his way back to Melbourne having done a trailer changeover at Nhill, and was trapped in the driver's seat after the crash, the court was told.

He was undergoing rehabilitation for his injuries, and allegedly told police in an interview he was aware of braking efficiency issues but decided to drive anyway.

Police say he should have pulled over after realising the deficiencies.

Prosecutors conceded that while Russell faced serious charges involving "young" and "vulnerable" alleged victims, he had no criminal history and the case would be affected by substantial delays.

The main delay was police having to reach out to all the different hospitals where all of the people on the bus were taken, Det Sen Const Gibson said.

Magistrate Andrew McKenna granted Russell bail, with conditions including that he stay in Victoria and not drive a vehicle. He urged Russell to get lawyers as soon as possible, noting the seriousness of the matter.

The truck driver has been charged with offences including dangerous driving causing serious injury and reckless conduct endangering life.

The case is slated to next appear in court on July 31.