Give Children the Right of Way

National School Safety Week
October 17 - 23, 2007

OTTAWA – Everyone using Canadian roadways has a role to play concerning safety around school-aged pedestrians, cyclists and school buses. The rules governing the behaviour of drivers sharing the road with school buses are designed to give the best possible outcome of safe boarding, riding and exiting of school bus passengers. With education, awareness and enforcement, children can rely on what has been proven to be the safest method of transportation. Advancements in engineering have contributed to improvements in safety features such as Stop Arms, which extend at the front of the buses to enhance the visibility of children and strategically placed mirrors to improve the field-of-view around the bus.

We rely on more than 20,000 school buses in Canada to bring our children to and from school every day. The buses are readily recognizable with their bright yellow colour, flashing lights and distinct shape. They carry students of many ages, sizes and stages of development. They make multiple stops, short runs and long runs along rural highways.

For the occasion of our National School Safety Week, Canada Safety Council would like to remind motorists sharing the roads with school buses and school-aged pedestrians and bicyclists, of the road safety rules in order to ensure the safe transportation of our children.

The Highway Traffic Act in each province and territory states that every driver approaching from both directions towards a school bus that has its overhead red signal-lights flashing, must stop and shall not proceed until the bus moves or the overhead red signal-lights have stopped flashing (except on highways separated by a median strip, whereby oncoming traffic is not required to stop). It is also worth noting that most school buses are required by law to stop at all railway crossings. Motorists should be prepared to stop.

Motorists abiding by the laws and being vigilant with student pedestrians and bicyclists will help ensure that children reach their destinations safely by following these guidelines:

  • Abide by the school bus traffic laws.
  • Keep a watchful eye for children running to catch their bus. They have been known to pay little regard for their own safety and may dart out in traffic.
  • Respect the crossing guards and slow down in school zones.
  • During the school year, be especially cautious during periods of the day when students are travelling to and from home.
  • Keep a watchful eye for cyclists and pedestrians on roadways.
  • When turning at intersections watch out for students using the crosswalks
  • Teach your own children about safe conduct in roadways and on school buses.

An ounce of prevention and caution could save a life.

Backgrounder Information

A study by Transport Canada spanning over a period of ten years (1992-2001), determined that school buses were involved in 5,100 casualty-producing collisions (i.e. fatal and injury-producing) representing approximately 0.3 percent of all the casualty-producing collisions involving all vehicle types. Of the 5,100 collisions, there were a total of 145 fatalities (an average of 14.5 per year) and 9,359 personal-injury collisions (an average of 936 per year).

The fatalities consisted of 7 school bus occupants (including one driver), 38 pedestrians, 8 cyclists and 92 occupants of other vehicles over the span of 10 years. The break down reflects that 5 percent of the fatalities were actually school bus passengers, 26 percent were pedestrians and 6 percent were bicyclists. Almost 70 percent of all school-age pedestrian fatalities in school bus collisions were between the ages of 4 and 7.

Of the 9,359 personal-injuries (injuries ranging from minimal to major) collisions statistics, 4,336 (46 percent) were school bus occupants, 534 (6 percent) were pedestrians, 197 (2 percent) were bicyclists and the remaining 4,292 (46 percent) were occupants of other vehicles. About 60 percent of school-aged bicyclist injuries occurred between 2:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m.

Sources:
Transport Canada: Road Safety/ School Bus Collisions 1992-2001
Ontario Ministry of Transportation: School Bus Safety Resource Guide

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Canada Safety Council
Suzanne Robillard, Communications/Media Coordinator
(613) 739-1535 ext. 228