Think of Us On The Bus

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man showing camera on side of school bus

As Palliser School Division’s Think of Us on the Bus safety campaign enters its eleventh year, Transportation Services Supervisor, David Shaw, sees the effort making gains toward safer student transportation but there is still a long way to go.

"During the last eleven years, we have outfitted all of our route buses with camera systems that not only can detect behaviour concerns outside of the bus but also inside as well. Over the years we have caught numerous vehicles passing our buses while the flashing reds are engaged and have sent those videos to law enforcement, and tickets have been issued to the vehicle's registered owner", says Shaw.

"We have seen a decline in reports the last couple of years but there are still over 45 per school year, which means we have that many close calls for the children that ride on those buses. Our drivers must be aware of not only the students getting on and off our buses but also the traffic that may not be stopping around them that are supposed to."

High quality video and still images along with key information about the bus speed and location can be captured and shared with Palliser’s Think of Us on the Bus partners in law enforcement: the RCMP and Alberta Sheriffs.

More than 30 tickets were issued last year on the strength of the photographic evidence. A few additional tickets were issued based on license plate and vehicle information bus drivers documented the old-fashioned way — with pen and paper. "Of the tickets issued, we usually have to appear in court 5 or 6 times to defend the ticket but after the driver is shown the video by the crown prosecutor, the driver changes his plea to guilty and pays the fine", Shaw added.

Shaw says one of the great benefits of the Think of Us on the Bus campaign has been a deepening of relationships with law enforcement. Sheriffs and RCMP have met with bus drivers, rode on Palliser buses and stepped up enforcement when drivers reported a spate of incidents in a particular area. The resulting message was clear. Law enforcement had the bus drivers' backs.

Think of Us on the Bus is a multi-pronged campaign that includes public awareness efforts, safety assemblies for Palliser elementary and middle school students and ongoing communication with enforcement agencies.

Motorists who encounter a school bus with flashing amber lights should proceed with caution knowing the bus is preparing to stop for loading or unloading students. Flashing reds require traffic stop in both directions, except on a divided highway. In that scenario, only traffic travelling the same direction as the school bus must stop. Failure to stop for a school bus with it’s red lights flashing comes with a fine of $567.00 and 6 demerit points should a law enforcement officer catch the driver in the act of passing the bus illegally.