As another school year begins, Ontario is reminding drivers to be alert, put down the phone and follow the rules when driving near school buses and in school zones.
Almost 834,000 students travel on school buses every day across Ontario. To help keep them safe, drivers should:
- Drive with caution when approaching or passing a school bus
- Obey the speed limit and be prepared to stop for a school bus at any time, not just during school hours
- Never pass a stopped school bus with red upper lights flashing – it’s against the law
- Leave space around school buses so children can get on and off safely
- Stop and yield the whole roadway at pedestrian crossovers, school crossings and other locations where there is a crossing guard.
Parents should also remind their children to be aware of their surroundings when getting on or off school buses.
Steven Del Duca, Minister of Transportation, said: “Road safety is a top priority for our government. With the new school year, I encourage everyone to be alert and slow down when driving in school zones and near school buses. Distracted driving collisions are on the rise – stay alert and help us keep our kids safe”
Leslie Cross, President, Ontario School Bus Association, said: “The Ontario School Bus Association continues to work with the Ontario Ministry of Transportation to ensure the safety of all students riding school buses. We are very pleased with the ministry’s efforts to keep the road safe for all users and the success Ontario has had in communicating safety messages, including distracted driving. We encourage all motorists to review safety measures before the school year begins and join us as safety partners in getting all children to school safely, on time and ready to learn.”
Last year, Ontario passed its Making Ontario’s Roads Safer legislation, clarifying that a school bus is the only bus that may be painted chrome yellow to be easily identified. Drivers failing to stop for a school bus can be fined up to $2,000 and receive six demerit points for a first conviction.
Distracted driving is a leading cause of collisions on Ontario roads. According to 2013 collision statistics, the number of distracted driving fatalities has more than doubled since the year 2000 and one person is injured in a distracted driving collision every 30 minutes.
Drivers now caught talking, texting, typing, dialing or e-mailing using a hand-held cellphone and other hand-held communication and entertainment device face a fine of up to $1,000 and receive three demerit points upon conviction. – CINEWS