Classes will soon resume in most Alberta school jurisdictions and school buses will once again be a frequent sight on Alberta roads. Children will be waiting for buses, entering and exiting vehicles near schools, and arriving at school on foot. Be aware that buses will be stopping on rural roads and that speed limits in school zones are in effect.

A persistent concern of RCMP and school divisions is the prevalence of school bus “fly-bys”. Amber flashing lights are a warning that the bus is slowing and preparing to stop, and that motorists should do the same. Flashing red lights and the stop sign on the driver’s side mean that all traffic must stop and remain stopped until the red lights are deactivated. This applies to two-way traffic with the exception of oncoming traffic on highways divided by a meridian. The penalty for passing a school bus that is stopped and displaying its flashing red lights reflects the severity of the offence with significant fines and demerit points.

Students share responsibility for their own safety while entering and exiting buses or family vehicles and while using crosswalks. It is important for parents and care givers to spend some time ensuring that children understand the importance of obeying safety rules. These tips from Alberta Health Services are a good starting point:

  • Take 5 steps back from the road when the bus is stopping (if they can touch the bus, they are too close)
  • Wait for the bus to come to a complete stop
  • Stay at least 5 steps away from the 3 danger zones of the bus (front, sides, and back)
  • Pay attention to their surroundings, and this may mean avoiding using mobile device or gadgets until they are in a safe location

Back to School is a time of mixed emotions for many parents, especially when you wave good-bye to a child entering school for the first time. It should be a time when parents feel confident that everything possible is in place for their children’s safety. Making that happen is a shared responsibility between the driving public, school bus drivers and students.