School buses are rolling again and motorists are reminded to be cautious and obey the rules of the road.
“We all have to work together for the safety of the students,” says Harry Davis, director of transportation for High Prairie School Division.
“Safety is first and foremost.
“Stop when you see a school bus with alternating red and amber lights.”
Otherwise, it could cost offending drivers a fine of $543 and six demerit points on their licence.
“Students are most at risk when they board and unboard a bus,” Davis says.
“It is also the responsibility of bus drivers to follow protocol and for parents to communicate to their children the safety information provided by the school division.”
Last school year, the division documented 48 reports of red-light violations, nine more than from the previous year.
“During the first full week of school, enforcement authorities will be in full force to patrol motorists around schools, crosswalks and bus routes,” Davis says.
Now, the division has installed video cameras outside on the road side of the buses to record offenders.
“It’s a major initiative from the school division,” Davis says.
Inside, three cameras have also been installed to monitor passenger movement and behaviour.
“This will ensure reliable information is documented,” Davis says.
Video and audio recordings will be downloaded through WiFi onto the school division’s computer server and forwarded to applicable enforcement authorities to consider charges.
Serving 50 routes, buses transport 2,000 students to 16 schools and daily log an accumulated 8,900 kilometres.
To transport students safely, all bus drivers are trained to be professional.
“School buses, without a doubt, are the safest form of transportation for students,” Davis says.
Local RCMP and commercial vehicle enforcement are key partners with the school division to promote public safety and awareness, he says.
For the safety of students, buses do not run when temperatures drop below minus 40 Celsius, regardless of the wind, Davis says.
Cancellations are also posted on the school division’s website.
Safety Tips for Motorists:
With students back in class, motorists are also advised to drive safely.
-Watch for children and prepare to slow down and stop.
-No matter what direction motorists are travelling, stop when approaching a stationary bus wit alternating red lights.
-Always be aware of and respect “point, pause, and proceed” used by Alberta school children when crossing roads. Stop for pedestrians.
Safety Tips for Parents
– Make sure you always drop off and pick up your child at the designated bus stop – not across the street. Children can sometimes get excited to see you after school and dart across the road without looking.
– Be sure someone responsible walks with your child and waits with them at the bus stop. It is not safe for a single child to wait alone for the bus, and it is easier for drivers to see more than one person.
– Before you leave the house, put everything that your child will need into their backpack so they won’t drop items along the way. Make sure all loose straps, drawstrings, etc. are secured so they won’t get caught in the handrail or door of the bus as they are entering or exiting.
– If possible, dress your child in bright, contrasting colors so drivers can easily see them. Take extra precaution when they are waiting at the bus stop in the dark. In cold weather, dress your child in a warm hat instead of having them wear a hood.
Hoods can make it more difficult for them to hear and see traffic as they are crossing the street.
– Make sure your child leaves for the bus stop at a reasonable time to avoid rushing