The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) is reminding drivers that the September long weekend is now behind us and that marks the beginning of a new school year. This is a busy time of year for everyone and the OPP wants everyone to keep safety in mind.
There is going to be a large number of school buses out on our roadways. Drivers must remain alert for the morning and afternoon school bus stops and watch for the students who are let off at the roadside.
The OPP wishes to remind the public to be vigilant when they see school buses travelling throughout the district. School bus drivers have the important job of ensuring the children make it to and from school safely.
The following are the requirements of drivers encountering school buses;
- Every driver, when meeting a stopped school bus with its overhead red signal-lights flashing, shall stop before reaching the bus;
- When approaching a stopped school bus from the rear, with its overhead red signal-lights flashing, every driver shall stop at least 20 metres before reaching the bus;
AND in both cases;
- SHALL NOT proceed until the bus moves or the overhead red signal-lights have stopped flashing.
The penalty for failing to adhere to this important section of the Highway Traffic Act is;
- First Offence: $400 to $2,000 and six demerit points
- Each following offence: $1,000 to $4,000, six demerit points and possible jail time (up to six months)
Vehicle owners can be charged if their vehicle illegally passes a stopped school bus, even if they weren’t driving.
School buses are also required to stop at railway crossings under the Highway Traffic Act.
Some safety tips to remember:
- Never run to the bus or away from it;
- The “danger zone” is anywhere close enough to the bus that you can touch it. The bus driver cannot see you when you are in the danger zone;
- When the bus arrives, wait until it has come to a complete stop. The stop arm will be out and the red lights will be flashing. Always watch for traffic in both directions if you are crossing the highway;
- If you drop something near the bus, don’t pick it up. Tell the driver or another adult.
- Students that do not take the school bus must remember:
- Always walk on a sidewalk if available, if there is no sidewalk you should walk on the shoulder of the road and walk facing traffic;
- When crossing the road use locations that have a crossing guard or a signaling device such as a traffic light, or at stop signs;
- If you are riding your bicycle you must obey all traffic laws. This includes stop signs, traffic lights, riding with traffic not against traffic and obeying crossing guards.
“Traffic Safety is everyone’s responsibility, please drive safely” says Staff Sergeant Mike Gordon, West Parry Sound OPP Detachment Commander.