Police across southwestern Ontario encourage drivers to get into back-to-school mode.
That means watching out for kids and school buses, being more patient behind the wheel and not passing buses when their lights are flashing.
According to the OPP, the Independent School Bus Operators Association (ISBOA) conducted a province-wide study with their school bus companies from May 5-9 this year. During that study, bus drivers said they encountered times when drivers didn’t stop for the buses’ flashing lights – 151 times each day, according to the study.
Three quarters of the time, this took place when the vehicle approached the bus from the front, the OPP say.
“As drivers, we know that at certain times of the day we can expect to encounter school buses during our travels. Drivers need to be vigilant and pay attention to the flashing red lights and other safety equipment used on buses. Our children’s safety depends on it,” West Region OPP Traffic Inspector Ian Chappell said in a release.
The law states when a school bus is stopped and its flashing red lights are activated and the stop sign is extended, drivers must stop in both directions. You cannot legally pass a school bus until the stop arm is retracted and the red lights are shut off.
Thanks to former Chatham-Kent Essex MPP Pat Hoy, the law also states that the owner of a vehicle can be charged if their vehicle fails to stop for a school bus, even if they aren’t behind the wheel.
The OPP and ISBOA are working together to raise awareness about the possible serious consequences of ignoring school bus flashing lights.
“Family-owned school bus companies across the province are pleased to be working with their local law enforcement agencies to raise awareness about the dangers of passing a stopped school bus,” Steve Hull, president of ISBOA, said in a release. “Our common goal is to make back-to-school – and the rest of the school year – safe for all children who ride the bus.”
For more information on the study, please visit the ISBOA website at: I Stop You Stop Campaign.