There have been quite a few social media rants lately about drivers failing to stop for school buses.
Sergeant Dave Hardy, Integrated Traffic Services shares now that school is back in full swing, drivers need to be alert and cautious when it comes to passing through school and playground zones. "Most children haven't developed the skills to be safe in traffic all the time so there is a need to be aware."
For drivers who are unsure of the rules, Sgt. Hardy fills us in. "If you see a bus with amber flashing lights that indicates to slow down your speed and if circumstances permit, pass by the bus in a cautious manner. However, if you see alternating flashing red lights and most school buses are equipped with a stop arm that also comes out, under these circumstances you are to stop before reaching the school bus and remain stopped until the red lights stop flashing or the driver of the bus signals that you can pass by. Those are sometimes mistaken by drivers' and you should know the difference between amber and red lights."
Drivers who choose not to comply can anticipate a hefty fine and many demerits. "If you do violate the red light flashing signal there is a $543 fine and 6 demerit points, so it can be a very costly infraction."
If there is a divided highway or roadway, like Sunset Boulevard, only the direction of travel is required. "If there are vehicles coming from the opposite direction, if circumstances are safe, can continue to proceed."
It's not only drivers that need to be schooled but children as well. "The biggest risk to school bus passengers is the unloading and loading of the bus and most collisions involve the bus either being struck by a vehicle or a child being struck as they exit or are approaching a school bus. For parents, it's a good idea to walk the bus route with their child so they know how to get to the bus stop safely. It's good to teach children about pedestrian safety and safe behaviour when they are getting on and off a school bus."
If you see someone challenge a bus and not obey the rules, you can call in the license plate and RCMP will follow up. "If there is an opportunity to report infractions and license plates are obtained, we will certainly follow up and investigate those incidents."
Sgt. Hardy also says that sometimes officers go on ride-a-longs if requested by school administrators or if officers just feel passionate that their presence will help. "We do have some circumstances when some officers will actually contact a school bus driver and travel on the bus and drive with the bus driver and record violations while the bus is in operation."
A couple more key points shared by Hardy is it to have children be at their bus stop a few minutes early, have children know they should walk not run around the bus loading area, and avoid the use of electronic devices as they load and unload off the bus.
"There are options for investigations and those are happening through the month of September as it is our traffic safety focus."