NORTH OKANAGAN - Drivers blasting past school busses is becoming an increasing concern in the North Okanagan.
Driver Lynn Graham says this past week alone, there were six incidents in School District 83 where drivers blew past busses when the stop lights were flashing.
“It’s just this nonchalant attitude people seem to have,” Graham says. “They don’t recognize they need to stop.”
As part of Operation Safe Stop, a province-wide initiative, she is reminding drivers that passing a school bus when its red lights are flashing is both dangerous, and illegal.
“We have the most precious cargo we are transporting,” she says. “You may not have a child in the school system, but the children in our schools make up our community. They’re all our kids.”
The stop signs used on school busses are no different from stop signs at intersections and legally require drivers to stop, Graham says. Failure to do so can result in a $368 fine and three points on your driver’s license.
To report people to the police, bus drivers have to get the individual’s license plate number and a description of the vehicle and driver — something they sometimes accomplish with the help of all those extra eyes on board.
“We tell the kids, ‘you guys get your pens and paper ready,” Graham says.
It’s not uncommon to have repeat offenders, and if Graham doesn’t manage to catch a driver’s license plate one day, she, and her passengers, will be keeping their eyes peeled for it the next.
Graham has been a bus driver for ten years, and feels the issue is becoming worse.
“People are just so busy, they’re always rushing. They’re not allowing themselves an extra five minutes in the morning to stop for anything,” she says. “You have to look at what you’re willing to accept as the consequences by taking these chances. It’s not worth it.”
Yellow flashing lights mean the bus is about to stop, and other drivers should slow down and prepare to stop themselves. Red flashing lights mean students are getting off the bus and may be crossing to the opposite side of the road, so all lanes of traffic must come to a halt. Failure to do so could result in a student getting injured, or worse, killed, Graham says.
“There is no excuse,” Graham says.
School District 83 will be holding an Operation Safe Stop Education Day on Oct. 21. Busses and booths will be set up at Askews in Armstrong, the City Hall parking lot in Enderby, Piccadilly Mall in Salmon Arm and Askews in Sicamous.
Visitors will get the chance to ask any questions they may have and get information about the rules of the road from local bus drivers.
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