OPP reminds drivers to be ‘extra vigilant’ as back-to-school season arrives next week

MANITOULIN– Back-to-school is a busy time for everyone and it is important for drivers to be extra vigilant and to pay attention to the flashing red lights and other safety equipment used on buses.

The North East Region Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) is teaming up with the Independent School Bus Operators Association (ISBOA), the Ontario School Bus Association (OSBA) and the Ontario Association of School Business Officials (OASBO) to educate the public and to raise awareness about the possible serious consequences of ignoring school bus flashing lights.

Between September 1, 2014 and June 30, 2015, the North East Region OPP responded to 22 collisions involving school buses. Thankfully, there were no serious injuries sustained to any of the involved drivers or passengers.

“There are a number of different factors that contributed to these collisions but the bottom line is that all of them were preventable,” says Inspector Mark Andrews, Unit Commander of the North East Region Highway Safety Division. “At certain times of the day, drivers should expect to encounter school buses and the responsibility for our children’s safety relies on both the bus drivers and on the vehicle drivers.”

It is illegal to fail to stop for a stopped school bus that has its overhead red signal lights flashing. For a first time offence, you can be fined from $400 to $2,000 and have six demerit points added to your licence. In Ontario, school-bus drivers and other witnesses can report vehicles that have illegally passed a school bus. If you are the vehicle’s registered owner, these same fines may be applied to you.

School buses are 16 times safer than any other vehicle because of their design and safety features. All bus drivers receive extensive training in order to be qualified to operate them.

The safety of our children is a shared responsibility. Everyone using our roadways needs to exercise vigilance, patience and understanding in order to reach our ultimate goal of getting students to and from school safely all year.