School’s in for Fall
While 2020 has brought new safety protocols and regulations across the spectrum of day-to-day life, not every safety issue is a new discussion.
As a new academic year approaches, the Canada Safety Council wants to remind you that school buses will be returning to the roads. Exercising caution and being attentive is always of paramount importance and particularly so as school activity resumes.
“The quieter roads over the spring and summer has had a positive influence in creating a more relaxed driving experience” said Gareth Jones, President and CEO of the Canada Safety Council. “However, we are headed back into a school season where we can expect a sharp increase in vehicle activity. With that increase, it is so very important to remind ourselves that we need to plan more time for the drive, heighten our situational awareness and call upon our reserve in patience as we all adjust to the changes in traffic. Road safety happens individual by individual and moment by moment which means that each of us has a role to play in keeping the roads safe.”
School buses have a longstanding history of safety and in fact are known to be the safest way to transport children to and from school. However, according to Transport Canada, 79 per cent of all school-aged fatalities involving a school bus occur outside the bus and in or near school bus loading zones. It’s our collective responsibility as road users to do our part in keeping children safe before they get on the bus and after they get off, too.
As a motorist, always keep up a scan of your surroundings and make note of any school-aged children waiting by the road. Be prepared to stop if there’s an approaching bus. Provincial and municipal laws and by-laws may vary, but generally forbid passing a school bus when its signal lights are flashing and its stop sign is extended — this is to protect children who may need to cross the road or interact with traffic. Be sure you’re aware of specific school bus laws in your region.
The predictable behaviours we expect of adults interacting with traffic may not be fully developed in children, meaning that it’s always best to err on the side of caution and anticipate sudden and unusual movements when children are present. Drive slowly and cautiously, leaving plenty of time and space for you to react if necessary.
School zones are another area where caution is vital, as it provides a mix of vulnerable road users and transient traffic that includes cyclists, pedestrians, buses and personal vehicles. Always follow the posted speed limit, being mindful of your surroundings and obeying directives from crossing guards where applicable.
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Penalties for passing a school bus with flashing lights
British Columbia: $368 and three demerit points for first offence
Alberta: $543 and six demerit points
Manitoba: $675 and two demerit points
Ontario: Up to $2,000 and six demerit points for first offence
Quebec: Up to $300 and nine demerit points
New Brunswick: $480
Newfoundland & Labrador: Up to $1,200 and six demerit points
Nova Scotia: $410 and six demerit points for first offence
Prince Edward Island: $5,000, 12 demerit points and three month suspension of driver’s licence
Northwest Territories: $402
Yukon: $500 and eight demerit points
Nunavut: $115 and four demerit points