Be aware of school buses as students are back in class

School buses are back on the road as school starts Sept. 3. Motorists are advised to obey bus signals and lights, advises Harry Davis, director of transportation for High Prairie School Division, standing beside a stop sign on a bus.

Richard Froese
For the Express

Students are back on the buses in and class as motorists are reminded to drive safely.

“When approaching a school bus – think about the students,” says Harry Davis, director of transportation for High Prairie School Division.

“When you see a bus, stay back, slow down and take in the big picture.

“When the alternating amber lights are activated, that means the bus is preparing to stop to pick up or drop off students.”

He reminds motorists that the maximum speed for buses on a highway is 90 km/hr.

When the stop arm is extended, alternating red flashing lights are activated indicates the bus has stopped and is in the process of picking up or dropping off students – STOP!

“It is illegal to pass a bus with its alternating red lights flashing,” Davis says.

“Failure to comply can result in a $543 fine and six demerit points.”

Bus drivers have another source of vision.

“All our buses have camera systems installed for another set of eyes for the driver,” Davis says.

Several motorists violated the stop lights and signs in the 2018-2019 school year.

“We had 148 stoplight infractions, an average 15 per month,” Davis says.

While that is down from the previous year’s figure of 184, it is still inexcusable and very disturbing, Davis says.

He also urges motorists to be alert on the road around school buses.

“Do a mental and physical inventory so you are prepared to operate the vehicle safely, keeping in mind school buses and students,” Davis says.

He appreciates the network of partners to keep students safe on buses.

“I would like to thank all the ‘enforcement groups’ for the great support shown to the High Prairie School Division in protecting out students by policing areas where buses operate and at the schools,” Davis says.

Drivers are also reminded to respect school zones and any patrols during school days, 8 to 8:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and 3 to 4:30 p.m.

Some are all day, he notes.

New school bus awareness billboards are also located in prime locations in High Prairie and Slave Lake and will be moved to other sites in the school division, he says.

Bus drivers take great care to transport students safely and respect other motorists on the roads, he says.

“All our bus operators are expected to operate professionally and that includes allowing traffic to pass when it is safe to do so,” Davis says.

“They simply slow down, move slightly over to the right, without endangering themselves by placing the bus in a compromising position, and allow the vehicles to pass.”

Bus routes continue to be reviewed to ensure safety of students.

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