Fewer Incidents in 2013-2014

Palliser drivers report signficantly fewer red light fly-bys in 2013-14 than in previous year

Think of Us on the Bus campaign of awareness and enforcement shows progress in second year

Last year, Palliser Regional School bus drivers reported 21 fewer incidents of motorists passing their buses when stopped for student pick up or drop off than in the previous year.

While that’s a significant decrease of 27 per cent, the 56 times “fly-bys” happened in 2013-2014 still put the safety of students at risk when they were loading or unloading at the bus, says Palliser Transportation Services Supervisor David Shaw.

“It’s still happening roughly once every four days,” Shaw says. “We still need motorists’ help to reduce the chances of someone being hurt.”

Passing a school bus when it’s stopped with red lights flashing and stop arm extended carries a $544 fine and six demerit points (effective May 1, 2015). Amber flashing lights indicate the bus is preparing to stop. The penalty for failing to use caution when the bus’s amber lights are flashing is $465, also effective May 1, 2015.

Shaw says several motorists learned the hard way about those penalties after 23 fly-bys were caught on camera. Last year, five of Palliser’s school buses were equipped with recording devices. More are being added this year. Thanks to the work of Palliser’s Think of Us on the Bus safety partners, particularly those at Commercial Vehicle Enforcement, the evidence caught on camera led to tickets being issued. Like photo radar tickets, these carry the financial penalty but not the demerit points.

Additional incidents not caught on camera but documented by school bus drivers on standardized forms created in consultation with RCMP are also shared with law enforcement agencies, and a few have also led to tickets being issued.

The standardized forms and efforts by school bus drivers to document every incident has provided insights into not only the scope of the problem but times of the year when drivers are least conscientious, Shaw says.

Data collected in the past two years show the number of fly-bys spike after school breaks in September, January and February. Shaw speculates a spike in June reflects the better weather and rise in overall traffic volume.

Palliser’s Think of Us on the Bus safety campaign continues to promote public awareness at the start of the school year with an advertising blitz and student assemblies promoting safety. Work with enforcement partners continues throughout the year and safety is a primary topic at the bus drivers’ start-up meeting, Shaw says. The bus safety campaign is now in its third year.