Stop for school buses

By Jenn Watt

Sept. 6 2016

Friendly bright yellow school buses have returned to our roads filled with kids still sporting their summer tans nervous about the first days of school. The process of returning to school routine can take a while to sink in.

That’s not only true of young students but of adults too.

Which is why the police are reminding the public that those bright buses are back – and they need to be respected on the roads.

Last April the local OPP had to issue a warning specifically around school bus safety after “receiving several complaints about vehicles stopping for school buses with their red lights flashing.”

Incredible as it may seem according to the police there are enough people blowing through school bus flashing lights to warrant a public announcement about it.

And that was near the end of the school year when we should have been used to bus schedules.

It shouldn’t have to be said that ignoring the flashing lights of a school bus could have devastating consequences.

These are vehicles whose entire purpose is to transport the most important and vulnerable members of our community every day. The safety of those little beings must be protected – particularly when many of them are still learning the rules of the road.

Not every child remembers to look both ways when his friends are calling to him from across the road or if he sees his mom waiting in the front yard. Sometimes kids take a long time getting off or on the bus. Sometimes the bus waits for what seems like forever while a child sprints at top speed down her long driveway in the morning.

As drivers we don’t always know the reasons buses stop – or why they have to take longer than most vehicles to get moving again – but we need to respect their space.

So here’s that warning again from the OPP: “drivers in both directions must stop for a stopped school bus with its upper alternating red lights flashing … Do not move your vehicle until the bus has moved or the alternating red flashing lights have been turned off and the bus moves.”

You should also leave plenty of space for children to get on and off the bus.

For those not motivated by providing safe roadways for children the police will also charge you if you pass a school bus with its upper red lights flashing. First offence is between $400 and $2000 and six demerit points. Second offence? $1000 to $4000 fine six demerit points and the possibility of going to jail for up to six months.

“In Ontario school bus drivers and other witnesses can report vehicles that have passed a school bus. The vehicle’s registered owner (even if [he or she was] not driving) can have fines applied to him/her” the police say.

September is the month of fresh starts new routines and reminders of old ones.

Let’s keep in mind that our commutes might take a bit longer and choose to stay calm and drive with caution to keep kids safe.