Palliser bus drivers reported eight fly-bys in January alone

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Palliser Regional Schools bus drivers reported eight incidents of so-called red light fly-bys in January, double the number reported in January 2015.

A fly-by occurs when a motorist illegally passes a school bus when it's stopped for students and has its red lights flashing and its stop arm extended. If caught, motorists can face a $544 ticket and six demerit points. Vehicles behind the bus and those coming toward it are to stop when they see the red lights flashing and the stop arm out on a two-way highway or road.

Some urban centres don't allow the use of red flashing lights. In such cases, motorists are to proceed with caution.

This fall, a motorist hit a Palliser school bus stopped with its red lights flashing. The bus has just let off a student. One person in that vehicle died from her injuries. No students or Palliser staff were injured.

So far in 2015-2016, Palliser bus drivers have reported 34 red light fly-bys. Last year, there were 53 reports all year.

With an increasing number of school buses equipped with video cameras capable of capturing licence plate information, Transportation Services Supervisor David Shaw says many offenders are being ticketed, thanks to Palliser's partnership with southern Alberta law enforcement. In one case this January, it was too dark for the camera to capture vehicle information, but another motorist called Palliser with plate numbers which was then passed along to law enforcement. 

"It is heartening to have other motorists watching out for the students and drivers," Shaw said. "I'm grateful for that kind of response and it is heartening that people understand just how dangerous it is to pass a bus when it's stopped for students. We just have to keep working to reach the small percentage who don't know or don't care."

To see the danger associated with passing a bus stopped for students, please watch this recent CTV Vancouver video about the experiences of drivers in Surrey, B.C. Some of the footage is heart-stopping.