School is back, which means that our children and grandchildren will be transported to school in School Buses.
Unfortunately, there are a number of motorists who view a School Bus, picking children up or dropping children off, as a major inconvenience to their schedules and will attempt to travel pass a School Bus while children are either boarding or exiting the bus. No child should have to fear for their safety while attempting to board or disembark from a school bus.
A number of years ago, the Provincial Government, recognizing that children may be at risk, based on the actions of some motorists, decided to pass Bill 73 (An Act to enhance the safety of children and youth on Ontario Roads) which was Assented to on December 9, 2004. This law was incorporated in the Statutes of Ontario, 1992 as Chapter 22.
What does the Highway Traffic Act say about a motorist’s responsibility around School Buses?
The Highway Traffic Act makes reference to School Buses in Section 175, which includes a number of subsections, ie:
Duty of drivers when school bus stopped
(11) Every driver or street car operator, when meeting on a highway, other than a highway with a median strip, a stopped school bus that has its overhead red signal-lights flashing, shall stop before reaching the bus and shall not proceed until the bus moves or the overhead red signal-lights have stopped flashing.
(12) Every driver or street car operator on a highway, when approaching from the rear a stopped school bus that has its overhead red signal-lights flashing, shall stop at least twenty metres before reaching the bus and shall not proceed until the bus moves or the overhead red signal-lights have stopped flashing.
When a School Bus has stopped and you can see the upper red lights flashing, all motor vehicles, approaching from both sides of the highway, street or road, must stop their vehicles, providing the school bus ample room in front of the bus and behind the bus; to allow passengers to safely exit the school bus (and go to the other side of the road) or to safely board the school bus (possibly travelling from the other side of the road).
If a school bus driver has turned on the upper red lights and they are flashing, a motorist approaching from the opposite direction must stop their vehicle, while ahead of the bumper of the school bus, to allow passengers to board or exit the bus and to travel ahead of the bus to the opposite lane of traffic. Normally the school bus driver also engages the school bus arm (an octagon shaped STOP sign) by extending it beyond the bus. You can not begin to move until the school bus arm has been retracted and the school bus driver turns off the upper red lights (that were flashing).
If you are following a school bus and it stops to let passengers board or exit, you must stop “at least” 20 metres (or 65.62 feet) behind the school bus. The school bus driver will turn on the upper red lights and cause them to flash and will also engage the school bus arm (an octagon shaped STOP sign) by extending it beyond the bus. Once the passenger has safely exited or boarded the school bus, the school bus driver will turn off the upper flashing red lights and retract the school bus arm. It is at this point, and only this point that you can begin to move in your vehicle again.
What are the penalties for passing a School Bus with its’ Red Lights Flashing?
The penalties for improperly failing to stop for a school bus (meeting) or failing to stop for a school bus (overtaking) can be found in Ontario Court of Justice’s “Schedule 43” (last updated on July 1, 2009) under items 507.5 and 507.6.
Failing to Properly Stop for a School Bus with Lights Flashing can be found in the Highway Traffic Act (HTA). The HTA addresses these situations under subsection 175 (11) & (12) .
If a motorist passes a stopped school bus, with its’ upper red lights flashing, the motorist can expect to receive a traffic ticket. This is a very serious infraction which can lead to accumulating six (6) demerit points
Failing to Properly Stop for a School Bus with Lights Flashing- Subsection 175 (11) & (12) of the HTA = $490 fine, up to a $2,000 fine. If you are convicted the first time and you are charged and convicted again, expect a hefty fine of anywhere between $1,000.00 and $4,000, an accumulation of an additional six (6) demerit points and in addition, possible incarceration for a period not to exceed six (6) months.
What is the Provincial Government’s response to School Bus safety?
School Bus Safety:
- School buses manufactured after January 1, 2005 must have a crossing arm at the front of the bus. (D250 Standards).
- Decal must be displayed on rear of bus indicating a fine of up to $2,000 if bus is illegally passed.
- Registered owners of vehicles can be charged if their vehicle illegally passes a school bus that is stopped with its red lights flashing.
For more information on school bus safety go to:
- Illegal Passing of a School Bus: What to do
- School Bus Safety: information for riders, parents and motorists
- School Bus Safety Smarts
- School Bus Safety Resource Guide
Toronto Police will be conducting their “Back to School” campaign for a two (2) week period, commencing on Tuesday, September 8 to Tuesday, September 22, 2009. During last year’s 2008 “Back to School” campaign, there were nearly two (2) collisions per day involving school−aged children who were either pedestrians or cycling.