School is back in session. What that means for many of you in our community is the return of the school bus. While this can be a fun time for the kids and a chance to catch up with friends before the grind of classes, there are many school bus safety issues that need to reviewed. This includes traffic rules for other drivers, and safety rules for riders. We all want to make sure that the school year is filled with fun and learning, but we also want to make sure everyone returns home safely at the end of the day. To help makes this easier for all, we have compiled some great safety tips for you.
We all learn about school bus safety rules when we get our drivers license, but over time we tend to forget some of these rules. Sometimes a friendly reminder is all we need.
The following is taken from the MTO school bus safety section.
When driving on a road WITHOUT a median, which is many of the roads in Haldimand County;
- Drivers travelling in BOTH directions must stop for a stopped school bus with its upper red lights flashing.
- When you approach the bus from the front, stop at a safe distance to let children get on or off the bus and cross the road safely
- Don’t move forward until the red lights have stopped flashing or the bus begins to move. Many busses have an extended stop arm, wait until this is completed closed before proceeding.
When driving on a road WITH a median;
- Traffic coming from the opposite direction is NOT required to stop.
Drivers can be charged if they pass a stopped school bus with its upper red lights flashing:
- First offence: $400 to $2000 and six demerit points
- Each following offence: $1000 to $4000, six demerit points and possible jail time up to six months
- All the above CAN affect your car insurance premium.
Just as loaning your vehicle means loaning your insurance, vehicle owners can be charged with these offenses even if they were not the one driving the vehicle.
School bus riders should also pay attention to safety rules. Here are some great tips that parents can share and discuss with children to make sure the bus is a great experience for them.
Getting safely on the bus:
- Always be at the bus stop at least 5 minutes before your bus is scheduled to arrive.
- Make sure you are in a safe place back from the road while you wait
- Never stand in the danger zone that surrounds the bus. This is anywhere close enough for you to touch the bus.
- If you need to cross the street to get on the bus always wait until the bus has come to a complete stop. Look for the extended stop arm and the flashing red light. Always watch the driver, He/She will signal you when all traffic has stopped, and it is safe to cross. Continue to watch traffic yourself though and always walk, don’t run.
- When getting on the bus, hold the hand rail and never push or shove.
- Remember: The steps can be steep! Take your time and make sure everyone gets on safely.
Riding the bus safely:
- Promptly take your seat and face forward at all times.
- Place bags and parcels under your seat or on your lap.
- Keep the bus aisle clear at all times
- Never stick your arms, legs, or head out the window of the bus
- Do no throw objects inside or outside of the bus
- Talk quietly, the driver needs to concentrate to safely get you where you need to be. Fighting, shouting, bullying and the use of offensive language is NEVER permitted.
- Participate in bus evacuation procedures
- Eating and drinking (including chewing gum) is not allowed on a school bus at any time.
- Be aware of scent allergies.
- Always follow the bus driver’s instructions.
Leaving the bus safely:
- Remain in the seat until the bus comes to a complete stop.
- Just as entering the bus, hold the handrail.
- Take large steps away from the bus. If you need to cross the street, walk at least ten giant steps ahead of the bus and wait for the driver to signal you it is safe to cross. Always look both ways just to be safe and cross in single file.
- If you drop something near the bus, tell an adult. It may not be safe for you to pick it up.
We all have a responsibility to ensure school bus safety is a priority. If you see a bus with lights flashing, STOP! Leave a few minutes early for work if you are worried about getting behind a bus making frequent stops.
If you see a youngster struggling, help them out. We all want our children to have a great experience not only in school but getting to and from as well.
If we all work together and follow these simple safety rules, we can ensure that this school year will be a safe one for all.