Since school opened in September, Kings District RCMP have issued four tickets to motorists illegally passing a school bus.
“It is a lot in my opinion,” Sergeant Chris Gunn said. “One is more than enough when it comes to the safety of our children.”
A total of seven complaints were received, but it isn’t always possible to catch the person, he said.
“We need to be able to identify the driver so if a witness can obtain the plate, or a description of the vehicle and/or the driver we can then write the driver a summary offense ticket.”
One of the four tickets was issued within the Town of Souris, but bus drivers who have stops within town limits have seen more than one offender, according to calls made to the town hall.
“It is happening right here on Main Street,” CAO Shelley LaVie said during the November town council meeting.
Council have made RCMP aware of stops at the east end of Main Street which bus drivers say is a problem area.
Ms LaVie said signage could be a solution, but motorists ultimately have to take responsibility.
“People need to be reminded to slow down when they see the yellow lights come on and they need to be stopped by the time the red lights come on,” Ms LaVie added.
There are regulations bus drivers are expected to follow too, according to the Public Schools Branch.
In rural areas, where the speed limit exceeds 60 kmph, bus drivers are instructed to activate the amber warning lights approximately 150-200 metres prior to the stop.
In urban areas, where the speed limit is less than 60 kmph, drivers are instructed to activate the amber warning lights approximately 30-40 metres prior to the stop.
Dave Gillis, Director of Transportation at the Public Schools Branch, said they manage approximately 14,000 bus stops, twice daily, each school day.
“We work with Department of Transportation, Infrastructure and Energy (TIE) regularly in review of sightlines and safe locations for these stops,” Mr Gillis said.
“When warranted, this would include erecting additional signage.”
On November 10 an RCMP officer in an unmarked car saw a car travelling southbound, on Route #1 in Mount Mellick, travel through the red flashing lights of two school buses. Both buses were stopped at the same residence to pick up children heading to different schools. The driver of the car was stopped a short distance away and issued a summary offence ticket.
Mr Gillis said so far this school year 56 incidents of illegal school bus passing have been reported to the branch.
“Last year in total we had 143 such incidents,” he added.
“This puts our current numbers on par with years past, and is a strong indicator this problem continues to be an issue in our province.”
The four tickets issued in Kings County were all written for the minimum amount of $1,000 plus a $50 surcharge.
“Anyone getting convicted will receive a driving prohibition,” Sgt Gunn said, explaining that once a person either pays the fine or is found guilty of the offense in court the driving prohibition comes into play.
While the amount of the fine can be anywhere from the minimum of $1,000 to a maximum of $5,000 the driving prohibition is mandatory.
According to the province’s website: “Failing to stop for a school bus when the red lights are flashing will lead to a driver accumulating 12 demerit points, resulting in licence suspension for three months. In order for a driver’s license to be reinstated, the driver must meet with officials of Highway Safety, pay a $100 reinstatement fee, and take a defensive driving course within six months. After the reinstatement, a driver is on demerit point probation. This means any further demerits within one year will result in a further licence suspension.”