The launch of a new school year presents a recurring challenge with vehicles sharing the same road space as school busses.
A look back at 2019 shows 41 drivers were charged for passing a school bus with red lights flashing. This is an increase of three times the number of convicted in each of the three previous years.
Nicole Couture, who represents Island bus drivers through the Canadian Union of Public Employees, said there likely hasn’t been a drastic increase in drivers passing busses illegally. Rather, she expects more cases are likely being reported and police may be keeping a sharper eye out for the infraction during their patrols.
Kings District RCMP Sergeant Chris Gunn assures the public that police will continue to be vigilant this year.
Police officers will be doing focused patrols when busses are scheduled to be on the roads this fall. There is a zero tolerance policy concerning drivers who pass buses illegally.
Sgt Gunn would like to see the public show caution around buses and have extra patience in school zones.
Police, according to the sergeant, won’t hesitate to investigate and lay charges even if it is a driver’s first offence.
The minimum fine for the offence is $1,000 but can increase to $5,000 depending on the case and the driver’s history.
Since December 2018, drivers caught passing a school bus with red lights flashing received 12 demerit points and their licence was suspended for three months.
Despite police efforts, Ms Couture still sees drivers putting buses and students in dangerous situations when they speed along highways or pass when red lights are flashing.
“It’s easy to forget and we all make mistakes,” she said.
Ms Couture emphasizes, these mistakes can lead to devastating accidents and she asks drivers to slow down and to pay attention when approaching a school bus.
She said managing the safety of students isn’t an easy job.
“You do it because you love it and care for the children like they are your own.”