Running school bus stop lights
The new school year is approaching but John Dewar believes there are a lot of worried bus drivers in the North Bay area.
Dewar is the Safety Training Manager at Stock Transportation in North Bay.
He keeps tabs on his drivers and the number of times they have reported vehicles running their school bus stop signs.
“I did a count last year from the September start until June 30th, end of school year, we had 62 infractions reported by the drivers where they got the license plate and the color of the vehicle,” said Dewar.
“That’s 62 where my driver was able to get that information. I have a formula and I believe it is 2 to 1 and that is unacceptable here in North Bay and we have got to make some changes.”
That’s only one bus line making that claim, so those numbers are even higher.
Dewar has been in the school bus driver seat before and he knows it’s a terrible feeling when a driver sees someone blow their their lights and stop sign while children are getting on or off the bus.
“It will shake you up because the kids, they put all that faith in you, the bus, and the system when they get off that bus so when they get off the bus to go cross in front of the bus, it is out of your hands, you are hoping that the public is doing what they are supposed to be doing,” said Dewar.
“So yes, it is very stressful.”
Fines for failing to stop for a school bus can be:
- First offence: $400 to $2,000 and six demerit points.
- Each following offence: $1,000 to $4,000, six demerit points and possible jail time up to six months.
If the driver is not charged, the vehicle’s registered owner can be fined $400 to $2,000 for a first offence and $1,000 to $4,000 for subsequent offences within a five-year period if their vehicle illegally passes a school bus that is stopped with its red lights flashing.
Read more about Running School Bus Stop Lights in North Bay
Northumberland OPP issue reminder on school bus safety
With 800,000 children in Ontario using a school bus, Northumberland OPP have issued a reminder of some safety issues and rules of the road.
School buses come in all sizes, but all are chrome yellow displaying the words ‘school bus,’ the release noted.
You must stop whenever approaching a stopped school bus with its alternating red lights flashing and stop arm extended.
When approaching from the front, leave a safe distance between you and the bus. When coming from behind, stop at least 20 metres away. Do not proceed before the red lights stop flashing and the stop arm is retracted.
You must obey these laws regardless of how many lanes or speed limit on that road. The only exception is if there is a median (physical barrier) in the center of the road and you are approaching the school bus from the front.
Drivers who fail to stop are subject to being charged resulting in fines ranging from $400 to $2,000 and six demerit points.
OPP remind that these laws are in place to protect our children who are at times easily distracted and parents should take time to educate their children to be aware of their surroundings when they are on or near school buses.
Sudbury police unveil online reporting tool
A new tool will make it easier for people in Sudbury to report online drivers who fail to stop for the red flashing signal lights of a school bus.
The online reporting tool will allow bus drivers to provide information to Greater Sudbury Police about drivers who ignore the signal lights.
Community members can also submit a road watch complaint online at www.gsps.ca (Online Reporting) to report such drivers. A licence plate is required to file an online report.
“Drivers who pass a stopped school bus when the overhead red flashing lights are activated can be charged, and receive a $490 ticket and six demerit points,” police said in a release.
“In cases where the driver cannot be identified, the registered owner of the vehicle is liable and subject to the same fine without the demerit points.”
The initiative is part of an effort to keep students safe as they return to school on Wednesday. Greater Sudbury Police officers are reminding motorists to “drive with extra care and attention” that day.
“Give yourself some additional time to get to work, school or that important appointment. There will be delays when following a school bus as it makes several stops on its route to pick up children.”
Officers will be on patrol Wednesday and road safety, particularly in school zones, will continue to be a priority during September and throughout the school year.
“Officers will also be following school buses at random to ensure drivers are obeying the rules of the road, especially stopping for the flashing red overhead lights,” police said.
Motorists are reminded that all school zone speed limits are posted at 40 km/h to provide drivers with a better opportunity to safely make an unanticipated stop.
“Unanticipated events would include a child walking or biking to and from school that wandered too far onto the roadway or a child chasing a ball from a game,” police said.
In addition, crossing guards rely on drivers to follow the posted speed limits in order to make safe decisions based on the distance of drivers allowing children to cross the street to and from school.
All drivers must obey the crossing guard’s stop sign. Failure to do so can result in a $180 fine and three demerit points.
Drivers are reminded that the speed limits set in and around schools do not change when school is dismissed for the day. Speed limits are in effect 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.
School buses are clearly identified as such by their chrome yellow paint and markings.
When operating a school bus, drivers must follow rules under the Highway Traffic Act and stop at all rail crossings.
“Motorists must also follow the rules of the road when approaching a stopped school bus that has its overhead red signal lights flashing,” police said. “All motorists must stop at least 20 metres from the bus and not proceed forward until the red flashing lights turn-off or the bus starts moving.
“This rule does not apply to a highway that contains a median strip and the stopped school bus is on the opposite side of the median.”
The following safety tips apply to all school children who walk or cycle to school; offices are asking all parents/guardians and teachers to review the following safety tips with their children/students:
Pedestrians of all ages are reminded to:
– Stop, Look and Listen for traffic.
– Wait for the pedestrian walk lights.
– Walk on sidewalks where available.
– Cross only at cross walks and keep your head up at all times.
– Make eye contact with drivers if possible as you cross an intersection.
– Wear reflective clothing at night.
– Avoid distractions while walking or riding such as; using cell phones or other entertainment devices.
– Cross only when roadways are clear.
– Obey crossing guards where available.
Cyclists are reminded to:
– Wear a helmet; it may save your life.
– Abide by the rules of the road.
– Use hand signals.
– Wear reflective clothing.
– Utilize proper lighting on your bike.
– Avoid distractions while riding such as; using cellphones or other entertainment devices.
‘I’m disgusted’: Parent fed up with drivers not stopping for school buses
A Halifax father says he’s concerned about sending his son back to school this year because of drivers failing to stop for school buses with red flashing lights. It’s a rampant problem in Nova Scotia, where the Nova Scotia School Boards Association said drivers failed to stop 1,500 times last year alone.
“I’m disgusted that people actually do that,” said parent Patricio Garcia. “These are kids getting on the bus.”
In Nova Scotia, when a school bus has its red lights flashing, traffic must come to a stop in both directions. Drivers can only resume once the red lights have been turned off.
Garcia’s seven-year-old son, who is on the autism spectrum, boards a bus directly in front of their home in the Rockingham area of Halifax. Garcia said he witnessed drivers in both directions failing to stop when lights were flashing and the stop-arm was extended.
“We had people that would lay on the horn when they were behind the bus,” said Garcia. “Some would pass the bus just as the bus was stopping.”
RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Dal Hutchinson said drivers on the road are frequently distracted, whether from daily stress or texting while driving. “People are in a rush. Far too often, we see people not slowing down,” said Hutchinson.
He said the cases are difficult to investigate because it’s challenging for witnesses to gather information, such as full licence plate numbers and the make and model of a vehicle as it’s speeding by.
The maximum fine for failing to stop for a school bus with flashing lights is $1,272.50.
Nova Scotia School Boards Association spokesperson Trish Smith said putting more cameras on buses would help, but she said the $3,500 cost per camera is a barrier.
Smith said boards are ensuring buses with cameras are assigned to routes with higher numbers of violations.