School buses, Driving and the Law

Students are well into their second week of the school year.  As motorists, we must be even more vigilant when driving.  It is everyone’s responsibility to protect children when they are getting on and off their school buses.  Little lives are at stake.

If you are not sure about the law and stopping for school buses, especially if you are a new driver, here is some information from the Ministry of Transportation, Ontario:

Approaching a school bus

“Motorists meeting (approaching from the opposite direction) a stopped school bus with its overhead red signal lights flashing, must stop before reaching the bus and shall not proceed until the bus moves or the overhead lights have stopped flashing.

The only exception is on highways divided by a median; drivers on the other side of the median approaching from the opposite are not required to stop. (A median is a raised, lowered or earth strip dividing a road where vehicles travel in both directions.)”

school buses

“Motorists approaching a stopped school bus from the rear with its overhead red signals lights flashing, shall stop at least 20 meters before reaching the bus and shall not proceed until the bus moves, or the overhead lights have stopped flashing.”

school buses

Here are the fines for drivers who do not stop for school buses:

“Drivers who don’t stop for a school bus can be fined $400 to $2,000 and get six demerit points for a first offense. If you break the rule a second time within five years, the penalty is a fine of $1,000 to $4,000 and six demerit points. You could also go to jail for up to six months.

If the driver is not charged, the vehicle’s registered owner can be fined $400 to $2,000 for a first offense and $1,000 to $4,000 for subsequent offenses within a five-year period if their vehicle illegally passes a school bus that is stopped with its red lights flashing. If the vehicle owner does not pay the fine, they will not be able to renew the vehicle’s permit.”

Source:  Bus Handbook, Stopping for School Buses

Some other tips for drivers from the Canada Safety Council:

  1. Reduce your speed
  2. Obey crossing guards.
  3. Never overtake other vehicles within a school zone or within a half block of any crosswalk.
  4. Avoid U-turns, and three point turns in school zones. Young children cannot predict what you are doing.

Let’s do our part in protecting the youth in our community.  Also, put your phone away.  Driving requires your total attention.

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