From the Ontario Government’s School Bus Safety Page (http://www.mto.gov.on.ca/english/safety/schoolbus/safebus.shtml)
Drivers – always stop for the bus
Whether on a city street, highway or county road, and regardless of the speed limit and the number of lanes, motorists traveling in both directions must stop when approaching a stopped school bus with its upper red lights flashing. A flashing stop arm will swing out while passengers are boarding or leaving the bus. (The only exception: on highways separated by a median, traffic coming from the opposite direction is not required to stop). Once all passengers have boarded, the STOP arm will fold away. Do not start moving until the red lights have stopped flashing and the bus begins to move.
PENALTIES FOR NOT STOPPING
First offense: $400 to $2,000 and six demerit points
Each subsequent offense: $1,000 to $4,000, six demerit points and possible jail time up to six months
Kids – staying safe on and around the bus
School bus travel is extremely safe. In Ontario, over 800,000 students are transported daily in school buses that travel 1.9 million kilometers every school day. Although injuries to school bus passengers are rare, they most often happen outside the bus as students are boarding and leaving the bus or crossing the street. Remember these tips:
- Be at the school bus stop on time.
- Wait in a safe place well back from the edge of the road.
- Do not play in ditches or on snowbanks.
- Enter the bus in single file holding the hand rail.
- Find a seat right away and stay seated facing forward at all times.
- Do not place things in the aisle.
- Avoid rowdy behaviour. Do not throw things or eat or drink.
- Keep your arms and head inside the bus.
- Never distract the bus driver. Always follow his or her instructions.
- When you leave the bus, move away from the side. If you can touch the bus, you are too close.
- If you drop something near the bus, never try to pick it up because it’s quite likely the bus driver can’t see you. Ask an adult or the driver to help.
When crossing the street to get on or off the bus:
- Walk at least 10 big steps in front of the bus, along the side of the road and look at the driver for a signal before crossing.
- Look all ways before crossing the road.
- Walk, never run, to where your parent or caregiver is waiting for you on the side of the road where the bus stops
Parents – what makes a school bus safe
Ontario regulations require buses be driven by specially trained, licensed drivers with good driving records. School buses must meet safety standards established by Transport Canada, including the recent addition of a requirement for a front safety crossing arm. Other standards include:
Why no seat belts?
Information from all types of school bus collisions demonstrates that the current school bus design provides a high level of protection
to occupants and that seat belts may actually adversely affect the safety of children on school buses (Transport Canada).
Instead of requiring seat belts, school buses are designed and constructed differently from passenger cars. School buses protect passengers through “compartmentalization”, a design that includes:
- Seats with high backs;
- Seats filled with energy-absorbing material;
- Seats placed close together to form compartments;
- Strong seat anchorages.
Studies have shown that adding seat belts to the current seating configuration of a school bus can increase the chance of head and neck injuries. For a seat belt to be effective, it must be worn correctly, snug and on the upper thighs. Because school vehicles carry passengers from the very young to high school students, if seat belts were used, they would need to be readjusted and their use monitored. A seat belt not worn correctly may cause serious injuries.