According to the Association of School Transportation Services of British Columbia, travel by school bus is statistically the safest method of ground transportation in Canada and by a substantial margin.
We all expect and demand nothing less when our children and grandchildren are riding those buses to and from schools and school-related events.
Surely all drivers should understand this and not hesitate to stop when the red lights on a stopped bus are flashing.
CTV News reporters rode along in a Surrey school bus and recorded many drivers who did not even slow down as they passed the bus while it was in the process of unloading students at the end of a school day. They also interviewed one driver who became very emotional as he described a near miss when he was dropping off two little girls.
The Motor Vehicle Act requires drivers to stop when approaching a stationary school bus with red lights flashing. This covers from any direction, so drivers must pay more attention and think carefully as the red lights on the bus face forward and backwards, not to the side. It makes sense, as students may choose to walk around either end of the bus to cross the road.
A traffic ticket for failing to stop for a school bus includes a fine of $368 and three penalty points.
Police issued 287 tickets for failing to stop for a school bus in 2021.
The bus driver will activate the flashing yellow lights on the bus as it approaches the bus stop. Once the bus is stopped and traffic in the vicinity has passed, the driver will turn off the flashing yellow lights, turn on the flashing red lights and engage the stop sign on the left side of the bus.
The driver will wait until all students have entered the bus, or exited and moved to the pedestrian areas of the roadway. When it is safe to do so, the driver will turn off the flashing lights and proceed.
B.C. School districts are installing video cameras on the outside of their school buses to record evidence for the prosecution of drivers who fail to stop when the red lights are flashing. The video is turned over to police to prompt an investigation and charges.
Our provincial driving manual, Learn to Drive Smart (page 92), teaches that one must stop when one approaches a school bus displaying flashing red lights from the front or the rear, no matter what lane you are in. Drivers are also advised they must not start moving again until the bus driver signals it is safe by turning off the lights and pulling in the stop sign.
Drivers must exercise proper precaution when encountering a child on any road, street or highway. That includes students walking to or from a school bus that has stopped.
This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.