Watch out for School Buses

School bus driving

With its highly visible and distinctive yellow and black coloring and its flashing red stop sign, the school bus has become one of the safest modes of transportation on the road today.

However, with more than 800,000 children relying on school bus services each day, mishaps still occur when school bus safety guidelines are either overlooked or unknown.

By following a few simple safety guidelines parents, motorists and students can ensure the well being of everyone on the road.

Rules for boarding and exiting the bus safely:

  • Be at the bus stop on time. Avoid running to or from the bus
  • Wait for the bus in a safe place that is good distance from the side of the road
  • Be aware of the danger zone, which is close enough to the bus to touch it. The bus driver cannot see individuals if they are in this zone.
  • When crossing the street, wait until the bus and traffic has come to a complete stop. The bus driver will make sure that traffic stops and it's safe to board the bus.
  • Use the hand rail when boarding or exiting the bus

Rules for Safe School Bus Riding:

  • Sit facing forwards at all times
  • Bags and parcels should be placed on your lap
  • Keep feet out of the aisle to avoid tripping people as they enter and exit the bus
  • Keep your head and arms inside the bus. Never throw anything out of the windows.
  • No fighting, shouting, playing or throwing things around the bus
  • Always follow the bus driver's instructions

These are guidelines that parents should share with their children, regardless if they are frequent users of school bus services or not. Parents are responsible for their children until they step on the bus and immediately after they exit bus.

Rules for motorists:

  • Every time you see a stopped school bus with flashing red lights, you must stop, regardless of the direction you're travelling. (The only exception is on highways separated by a median. The traffic coming from the opposite direction is not required to stop.)
  • Don't move until the red lights stop flashing and the bus begins to move.

Remember, the penalty for not stopping for a school bus is a fine of up to $2,000 and 6 demerit points.

Let's keep children safe by reporting unsafe drivers
If you witness a driver who doesn't stop for a school bus, safely pull over and record everything you can remember about the incident:

  • Location, date and time
  • Make, model, colour and licence plate
  • Confirm that the bus was yellow with “school bus” written on both ends
  • Size of the bus (small or large)
  • Status of the bus (stopped or moving)
  • Red flashing lights (on or off)
  • Children boarding or exiting the bus
  • Driver passed from the front or from behind the bus

Immediately contact police by phone or in person and provide as much information as you can, including the names of any witnesses or photographs.

In addition to bus safety guidelines and laws, there are safety patrol programs that have been created to further educate and involve individuals on the importance of bus safety.

One such program is the CAA School Safety Patrol Program, which has more than 23,000 school safety patrollers who ensure the safe arrival and departure of their classmates at schools across South Central Ontario. By personally being involved, children not only get a better understanding of bus safety, but also ensure the ongoing safety of fellow bus passengers.

Learn about CAA's School Safety Patrol Program

Facts and information in this article are based on info from the School Bus Safety Resource guide found on the Ministry of Transportation Website.