School buses in Ontario now have a new amber-red light warning system. The updated lighting requirements for buses manufactured on or after January 2005 came into effect on July 1.
As it slows down, the bus will activate its stop arm and flashing ‘amber’ lights then flashing red lights to signal stopping.
Flashing overhead “amber” lights means that the bus is slowing down and is about to stop to pick up or drop off students.
When you see a school bus with its overhead “amber” lights flashing slow down, be prepared to stop and watch out for children.
There is also a new message on the back door of school buses which reads “DO NOT PASS WHEN RED LIGHTS FLASHING”.
When driving on roads without a median, vehicles in both directions must stop when a school bus stops. If you’re driving behind the bus, stop at least 20 m (65 ft.) away. If the school bus is facing you, stop at a safe distance to let students get on and off the bus and cross the road. Wait for the red lights to stop flashing, the stop arm to fold away, and the bus to begin moving before continuing your drive.
If there is a median between lanes that separate traffic direction, stop at least 20 m (65 ft.) away if you’re driving in the same direction as the school bus.
You do not need to stop if you’re driving on the other side of the median in the opposite direction of the school bus.
Stopping for school buses is the law. Drivers who don’t follow the provincial bus safety laws are subject to fines. First offence penalties can be up to $2,000 and six demerit points.