Justice Parrott

High School student Justice Parrott travels to and from school every day on the school bus, with a couple of extra bus trips a week along the way.

Student hopes drivers know "Flashing RED = Kids Ahead"

Justice Parrott, a student at Picture Butte High School, rides the bus more than most rural students.

In addition to the morning and afternoon drives to and from classes every school day, the teen boards the bus for a weekly trip to attend therapeutic riding at a centre near Coaldale.

Parrott travels in a motorized wheel chair, which is loaded and securely strapped into a specially equipped school bus for every trip.

The 17-year-old sits directly behind his bus driver, the same driver he’s had since he was in elementary school.

“We’ve been friends for quite a while,” he says. “I can tell when she’s angry, when she’s happy, and I can tell when she’s afraid.”

From his seat, Parrott says he’s seen vehicles speed by his bus as it stops to pick up or drop off passengers.

“Speeding is the biggest thing,” Parrott says, describing how sometimes it feels like the bus windows might break as vehicles roar by.

“If something happened, I’m totally dependent on my bus driver to unbuckle me quickly and get me out of there. I trust her a lot, but she can’t control what others are doing.”

As part of Palliser Regional Schools’ bus safety campaign, the division asked its junior high and high school students – young people who are drivers or soon-to-be drivers -- to contribute their ideas for improving bus safety. Among the suggestions was Parrott’s slogan “Flashing Red = Kids Ahead.” The phrase is being printed on two nearly seven-foot canvas banners for display at school bus safety assemblies and at other gatherings. In Parrott’s home town of Picture Butte, the banners were displayed on the side of a bus that was entered in the community’s summer parade.

Parrott says he hopes drivers take the safety message to heart and start exercising more caution around school buses and their human cargo.

“I just want it to stop,” says Parrott of the speeding and unsafe passing of buses, “so I can have a safe bus ride and stop worrying about whether we’re going to crash.”

In addition to adhering to speed limits and rules for passing, drivers can make the roads safer for students by knowing what to do when they encounter a bus that’s stopped. Drivers approaching from the front or behind a school bus with its red lights on and stop arm extended must stop and stay stopped until the lights stop flashing and the stop sign is retracted. Flashing yellow lights on the bus serve as a warning that the bus will be stopping soon. Drivers should proceed with caution. Passing a bus with its red lights flashing could result in a $402 fine and six demerit points.

Originally published in August 2012