Fewer incidents in 2014-2015

Fewer incidents for second straight year

For a second straight year, bus drivers in Palliser Regional Schools reported fewer incidents of motorists passing buses stopped with their red lights flashing.

In 2014-2015, Palliser drivers reported 53 incidents, three fewer than in the previous year, and a whopping 24 fewer than in 2012-2013, when the division started its Think of Us on the Bus safety campaign.

Palliser Transportation Services Supervisor David Shaw says the modest decrease year over year demonstrates two things: we have to keep improving awareness of road rules and safety; and we’re making progress thanks to diligent motorists and conscientious bus drivers.

“When motorists pass buses that are stopped for students to get on or off, that puts our students and our driver at risk,” Shaw says. “There just isn’t a good reason for or a safe way of passing a bus stopped with its red lights flashing and stop arm extended.”

Reports collected last year from Palliser drivers across Lethbridge County, Town of Coaldale and Vulcan County show September continues to be the most problematic month for so-called fly-bys, with 12 reported. There were another nine reported in October, making it the second worst month. In previous years, January was the second worst time, likely because of the Christmas break.

With students returning to school across Palliser on Sept. 1, Palliser is once again reminding motorists to watch for buses and to stop and stay stopped for any bus they encounter with its red lights flashing. The warning is backed up by steep fines. In May this year, the fine for failing to stop was raised to $544. The ticket can also carry six demerit points. Failing to use caution when passing a bus with its amber lights flashing went up to $465.

While Palliser’s partners at Commercial Vehicle Enforcement, RCMP and the Alberta Sheriffs can’t be Johnny-on-the-spot for every incident, the division has invested in camera systems that can record traffic travelling both directions around the bus. The system also shows the status of the bus, the speed it was travelling, whether it was stopped, and whether the red lights and stop arm were deployed. This year, there will be 17 camera systems in Palliser’s fleet. The video evidence coupled with the bus driver’s report is usually compelling enough that law enforcement will issue a ticket.

The division has nearly 60 routes that travel 1.8 million kilometres a year.