It's the first day of school, watch out for buses

·2 min read
Passing a school bus with its stop sign out comes with a heavy fine and an automatic licence suspension. (Brian Higgins/CBC - image credit)
Passing a school bus with its stop sign out comes with a heavy fine and an automatic licence suspension. (Brian Higgins/CBC - image credit)

P.E.I. drivers are being urged to take extra care Wednesday morning, and give themselves a little more time as students return for the new school year.

RCMP Const. Jamie Parsons said drivers should expect more traffic.

"As students and staff and vehicles head out for school in the mornings, the roads become a lot more busier, that's for sure. Parents are leaving a little earlier for work and dropping their kids off at school, so it's busy all around," said Parsons.

"What comes with that is increased danger."

CBC
CBC

Drivers should not pass a school bus that has its amber lights flashing, and must stop in both directions when the red lights are on.

Failure to stop comes with significant penalties: up to a $5,000 fine and a 3-month automatic licence suspension.

"You can only imagine what your insurance would be like after receiving such a ticket," said Parsons.

Fines for speeding are doubled in school zones.

'Seeing the smiles on the kids'

Rob Harding, a school bus driver for 13 years, is looking forward to welcoming children back on his bus again.

"It's like being a child again. You know, that first day of school is always exciting," said Harding.

"It's seeing the smiles on the kids. When they're excited to see you, that means a lot to me. You know you're doing something right."

But Harding is also concerned about these first couple of weeks while drivers get used to seeing the buses on the roads again.

Brian Higgins/CBC
Brian Higgins/CBC

He is always careful to give drivers lots of time when he is approaching a stop. And he gives children lots of time to get across the road. With the lives of the students at stake, he is not going to press his luck.

"If you have your ambers on and nobody's slowing down I will leave my ambers on and let that person go right through. It's way safer than opening the doors," said Harding.

Harding suggests parents give their children reminders about school bus safety, waiting for those red lights before crossing, and checking that all the traffic has stopped.

"The other thing is talking to students to make sure they're at the bus on time, because if they're rushing to get to the bus they're not paying any attention to traffic," he said.

While he loves driving a school bus, and he has never had a problem, he said he is haunted at night by the image of a driver passing through his red lights.