Stopping for a School Bus

School BusAccording to the Association of School Transportation Services of British Columbia, travel by school bus is statistically the safest method of ground transportation in Canada and by a substantial margin. I’m sure that we all expect and demand nothing less when our children and grandchildren are riding those buses to and from schools and school related events. Surely all drivers should understand this and not hesitate to stop when the red lights on a stopped bus are flashing.

Unfortunately, this is not so. Last January CTV News rode along in a Surrey school bus and recorded many drivers who did not even slow as they passed by the bus while it was in the process of unloading students at the end of a school day. They also interviewed one driver who became very emotional as he described a near miss when he was dropping off two little girls.

Calls were made for increasing the penalty for drivers who ignored the flashing red lights from $167 and 3 penalty points to something more significant. The provincial government agreed and increased the fine to $368. CTV claims that this is still much lower than some other provinces in Canada, the highest being Ontario with a penalty of $400 to $2,000 and six penalty points for a first offence.

There was also a mention of the possibility of placing camera systems on B.C. school buses to record violations. Gatekeeper Systems of Abbotsford has supplied Prince Edward Island with their Student Protector Licence Plate Reader system for that province’s school bus fleet. I was unable to find out anything about whether that system was still in operation or how effective it might be. There has been no indication of the success of cameras being used on school buses in B.C., but police did issue 200 tickets for failing to stop using conventional methods in 2015.

Our provincial driving manual Learn to Drive Smart (page 92) teaches that one must stop when you approach a school bus displaying flashing red lights from the front or the rear, no matter what lane you are in. Drivers are also advised that they must not start moving again until the bus driver signals it is safe by turning off the lights and pulling in the stop sign.

So, what about the driver I watched who met a school bus lit up and discharging students while it was stopped in a T intersection? That driver was approaching from the side and facing a stop sign. She signalled, stopped, turned right and drove away even though unloading was still in progress.

Our Motor Vehicle Act, which supersedes the Learn to Drive Smart manual, requires drivers to stop when meeting a school bus with red lights flashing. This would cover an approach from any direction, so drivers must pay more attention and think carefully as the red lights on the bus face forward and back, not to the side. It makes sense as students may choose to walk around either end of the bus to cross the road.

We’re on the brink of another school year and we’ll find school buses and students on the roads again. See, Think, Do and stop when necessary. It’s not only the law, but good roadsense!

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Comments

Some good research there, lotsa good links!

Here's another, make of it what you will.

We see there that in 2014, 120 tickets were issued (0.027% of the total tickets issued in the province) for ignoring Section 149.

Contrast that with 2500 tickets - more than twenty times as many - for driving in a bus lane, and surely you have to ask just how police set their priorities? Let's hope that some jurisdictions decide to occasionally install an officer on a school bus (they don't need their cruiser for this) from time to time this coming school year.

Every time they flag a driver over and ticket them roadside, it would be witnessed by many and serve as both warning and education; no drones required, either!

Is it just me?

Or does this make ZERO sense to anyone else?

Here, copied & pasted,,,,, "  Let's hope that some jurisdictions decide to occasionally install an officer on a school bus (they don't need their cruiser for this) from time to time this coming school year.

Every time they flag a driver over and ticket them roadside, it would be witnessed by many and serve as both warning and education; no drones required, either! ",,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

Are the children on the school bus supposed to be held up every time officer gets off the bus to flag down a driver passing the school bus to write them a ticket? After all the officer with NO computer to use will have to call into dispatch for the drivers license and Plate # to be run to see if the driver & vehicle is legal to be on the road in the first place. And if the vehicle drives off knowing the officer has no cruiser, does the officer run after the vehicle or give chase in the school bus, or just let the "Now Criminal" get away?

Or does the school bus just let the officer out to flag down the vehicle and write the ticket and continue on it's way, to then leave the officer to walk or thumb down a ride, phone a taxi, or maybe the News crew following that want to know the answer to this question as well.

Or am I just over thinking?

 

I think you're overthinking ... let me explain why.

 Are the children on the school bus supposed to be held up every time officer gets off the bus to flag down a driver passing the school bus to write them a ticket?

Yes.

Not just because the kids won't care, but because on any school bus route, most of the time that the bus driver activates the Stop sign and red flashing lights, they will be obeyed. So having one more big kid in a uniform get on and off to hide in front of the bus each time it takes on or discharges several little kids won't hold anybody up, much.

After all the officer with NO computer to use will have to call into dispatch for the drivers license and Plate # to be run to see if the driver & vehicle is legal to be on the road in the first place.

You don't need a cruiser to have a computer with you, these days; a laptop in a backpack, probably a mobile phone in your pocket patched into CPIC is sufficient. Besides which, the driver is required to be able to present both his/her Driver License along with the vehicle's Registration papers - no computerization needed.

And if the vehicle drives off knowing the officer has no cruiser, does the officer run after the vehicle or give chase in the school bus, or just let the "Now Criminal" get away?

Seriously? I'm not saying that the very rare miscreant, in response to being directed to the side of the road by a uniformed officer, might not choose to run instead of pulling over as directed. In which case, the officer will already have noted the license plate, even if the other stuff hasn't been presented.

For sure, chasing down that type of driver in a cruiser might result in catching them. If they don't kill any of the kids standing by the road ahead, waiting for the school bus, trying to escape ... fact is, any cop with a reasonable intellect and training wouldn't pursue.

Or am I just over thinking?

Yes, I do believe so.

Why? Because when it comes to enforcement, I think these are the choices:

  • Zero Enforcement
  • Visible Enforcement
  • Hidden Enforcement

Obviously, the first choice won't produce any effective result in the way people drive, anywhere.

Visible enforcement has actually worked pretty darned well, for decades, as it's obvious to all. 

Hidden enforcement seems like a great idea, but it's a matter of how it's applied, as we have seen and discussed in other threads on this forum.

A week from Tuesday - that is, September 6 - many police officers throughout this province will visibly and intentionally monitor school zones. They don't have the resources to do this each and every day that school is in session, for obvious reasons, but they will be out there as a clear and obvious presence.

In many cases, drivers will notice those cops, and quickly realize what they're up to; they will look at their speedometer, probably go for the brake unless they're certain that their speed is already legal. Some of them will get a ticket; hopefully all of them will be made aware of the circumstances.

I'm not saying that cameras on school buses aren't a good idea - I think they're a great idea, actually.

But hidden enforcement is not effective, right there and then. And only targets the vehicle owner.

 

Who Needs a Computer?

I had to make do with a portable radio for over 2/3 of my career. No computer in the car, no cell phone, paper maps, heck, I didn't even get a car with air conditioning in it until after I was transferred to the Okanagan and had been wearing insulation in the form of a bullet proof vest for a couple of years.

Sorta like having to walk to school through 6 feet of snow, uphill both ways.... :-)

So kinda like forced weight loss :-)

I was just thinking it would be quicker to have access to a computer seeing as a bus load of kids is waiting to get too or home from school. But yes a radio or phone works too. Curious though, how long does writing just one ticket take,,,,, if there are NO catches. I'm guessing not long enough to hold up everyone to make a huge difference. But if there is a problem I guess you would have no problem standing in the rain or snow waiting for a tow truck and a ride to come pick you up if it's not a clear day,,,, EH?

In a perfect scenario sure.

The kids won't mind being held up, but what about the parents or bus drive? Sure if only one driver was caught and the officer could issue that driver a ticket and then continue on their way, I doubt anyone would complain. But what happens if that one vehicle has a driver with an expired license, or insurance, which happens daily, now the time will increase substantially, does the School bus & children wait for a tow truck, or do they carry on and leave the officer there? Or if the vehicle pulled over has the smell of alcohol, now the officer has to do a sobriety test, again does the bus wait or leave the officer behind?

And as you say, having a uniformed officer hiding in front of the bus? What? Does not that defeat the issue of catching offenders? Many videos I watch from school bus drivers are vehicles that don't stop are going the other way, rather than following, so if a uniformed officer is at the front of the bus, the what would be regular offender will probably stop now seeing a fully uniformed officer (Hiding at the front?), which is fine for that trip, but won't detour the offender for next time because no price to pay, no consequences.

Then this one sided comment,,,, " For sure, chasing down that type of driver in a cruiser might result in catching them. If they don't kill any of the kids standing by the road ahead, waiting for the school bus, trying to escape ... fact is, any cop with a reasonable intellect and training wouldn't pursue.",,,,,,,,,,, Well sure the officer might chose not to pursue (If the school bus was picking up and on the way to school) But what if it was after school when no kids are standing on the road ahead, they are still on the bus.And what good is the license plate # without actually catching who is driving? The offender could possibly get away scot free.

And then this comment,,,,, " But hidden enforcement is not effective, right there and then. And only targets the vehicle owner.",,,,,, That is only because the government is too STUPID to fix this very EASY and OBVIOUS oversight. It would be very easy to change that by issuing POINTS to the driver of the vehicle, or the RO should the RO not disclose who was driving. By simply adding points and making a drivers license at risk of losing it rather than just fines, hidden enforcement would be "extremely effective"

That would eliminate the need for an officer to ride a school bus, or even set up in school or playground zones, if cameras were installed, as every driver would get caught, not just the ones that officers catch now, compliance would reach close to 100% before long once drivers realize hidden enforcement will also increase their insurance and risk their license being taken away.

So sure, in a perfect world with only one offender being caught on the route to or from the school, it might not be a bad idea to have an officer ride along, as long as they don't (Hide?) at the front of the bus, the children would probably get a kick out of it, and sure it just might be good for public to see. But in some areas where an increase of offenders passing school buses is happening, I just think a more permanent solution is needed, and that is as easy as cameras and governments adding points, then virtually EVERY offender will be caught and EVERYDAY, not just when police have the time and resources. 

Audacity

As a parent and a seasoned driver I'm appalled at the number of vehicles that disregard school zones and school busses! There is no excuse for this behavior, Cameras and vehicle DVR's are cheap like candy, the district should just pony up and install cameras on the entire fleet province wide! How is that there isn't any money anymore for kids! 

Let's catch these offenders! Better yet let's catch them and make a website for the offenders!!

Sorry I'll get off my rant box now.

Submitted by E-Mail

The law with respect to stopping for a school bus when the light are flashing is the law and must be obeyed. One thing though that seems reasonable to me is that it should be mandatory for the bus to remain in place until the backlog of cars can get by..

Submitted by E-Mail

I do have one question in regards to school bus safety - when I am driving and a school bus is stopped and it's lights are flashing ( and the bus is parked on the SIDE of the road, not in a driving lane but in a parking lane or a turn off area) are we still required to stop when we are approaching, no matter what direction we are coming from? This occurs regularity of Clifton road.

Answer

Yes, you would still have to stop. The legislation does require that the school bus be stopped on a highway, but the definition of highway includes much more than most people would consider. On a more rural road such as Clifton, it is essentially the area between the property lines on either side, regardless of the fact that part of the area may not be suitable to drive on.

 

I love the Idea

Of raising the fines and points for First offence to $400 to $2000 and 6 points, that way the offenders insurance will also go up, and make it faster for repeat offenders to lose their license as well. I would also like to see 1st offenders be forced to take a defensive driving course, after all if they are willing to risk children's lives they obviously drive with no consideration for anyone.

I would also like to see EVERY school bus equipped with front and rear cameras so they could catch ALL vehicles that refuse to follow the law and risk Children's lives, all adults that drive know that children act without thinking, so to not follow this law, in my mind is inexcusable, so heavy fines and points and mandatory Education should bring the numbers of offenders close to zero.

I would also like to see speed cameras in every school & playground zone as well with the same increase in fines, points and mandatory defensive driving course.

I work in the Mobile Video Surveillance Industry

The idea of automated enforcement is great.

That being said the legislation is not there for automating the enforcement. The amount of data that would have to be sorted through and verified is large considering the amount of school buses in our province. Not to mention the buying of the cameras is put on the school district (These systems are not cheap)

Currently districts with license plate reading cameras have to collect and submit the data to RCMP or local Law Enforcement themselves, in between their regular duties of running a transportation department. There also has to be cooperation between those local detachments to accept the evidence and issue tickets.

Raising the fines doesn't seem to have any impact from what I have noticed. In PEI where a majority of the buses are equipped with License Plate Reading cameras and the fines are $5000 and 8 demerit points (They also have large bumper stickers on the buses indicating such), there are still no tickets being issued.

If legislation allowed third party companies to share in the revenue of infractions then every bus could be out fitted with equipment and then more tickets could be issued thus changing driver behaviour.

Programs like this exist and operate successfully in the United States.

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