It’s better to be late Stop for the school bus!

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A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about the green flashing lights that volunteer firefighters use when they are responding to a call. It has always boggled my mind that some people don’t know what they are used for, perhaps due in part to the fact that my dad was a volunteer firefighter for 11 years of my childhood, and he had a green light on his dash even back then. By odd coincidence, a colleague told me a few days after my article was printed (an no, she didn’t read it) that she inadvertently blocked the path of a firefighter with a green flashing light on her way into work, oblivious to the meaning of the light. As a local fire chief told me recently, we will never be able to educate everyone. 

School bus loading zones help keep students safe when they board and disembark at school, but those same students must also board or disembark in the street during pick up or drop off at home or their bus stop

Another driving issue that has been going on far too long to make any sense is failing to stop for a school bus that is loading or unloading students – even with the obvious flashing red lights and a large red stop sign mounted to its side. Stopping for a school bus that is loading or unloading passengers should not be new to any driver, and it is a very clear procedure outlined in the driving manual. We are talking about many decades of buses having the flashing lights and stop signs – it is probably safe to say that no one on the road today obtained their driver’s license before stopping for a stopped school bus was the law. 

During recreational internet surfing last week, I came across a website for an organization called “Let’s Remember Adam”. It was set up in memory of Adam Ranger, a five year old Ontario boy who was struck and killed by a driver who failed to stop while he was getting off the school bus at his home in February of 2000. Over 23 years ago now, and I can guarantee that his family is still grieving, and that they still miss him every single day. All for what? Distractedness? Ignorance? Rebellion? If the person who killed Adam has any moral decency, then living with what they did ought to be a much harsher sanction than any prison sentence they received. 

In 2019, the Ontario government announced plans to increase funding and gradually work toward getting all school buses in the province fitted with stop sign cameras. These cameras are mounted on the arm which swings the stop sign out when the bus is making a pick up or a drop off. They can capture the license plate of anyone failing to yield to the bus, and act as proof of the offense in court without the bus driver having to miss a day of work to testify. Fitting all of the province’s buses is a gradual process that is not yet complete, but it cannot come soon enough. 

No one reading this is a perfect driver. Whether it be occasional speeding (even if just a few kilometres over the limit), or rolling a stop sign, or forgetting to signal, we all break traffic laws. We have to keep in mind, however, that some laws are simply inexcusable to break. If you didn’t know you had to stop for a school bus with flashing lights and an extended stop sign, you shouldn’t be driving. If you didn’t see the bus, you were not paying attention and shouldn’t be driving. And don’t dare pull the “I was late for work” card, because kids like Adam never grew old enough to get a job. Respect road rules – you may very well save a life. 

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