Despite school being back in session for only four days, Sooke School District (SD62) school bus operators are already urging drivers to stop passing buses that are making pick-up and drop-off stops.
SD62 a picture of a vehicle passing a school bus with it’s lights blinking and and stop signs out on social media Friday morning.
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Less than a week in and we're seeing motorists displaying reckless behaviours.
Please, do better. No one wants to see a child injured or worse because of impatience or ignorance. It is the responsibility of motorists to be aware of and comply with all traffic laws. pic.twitter.com/3PGopdWmEY
— Sooke School District (@SD62_Sooke) September 8, 2023
Cameron Gordon-Findlay told CHEK News he’s been driving school buses for the district for 20 years and recently he’s noticed a spike in drivers passing school buses when they aren’t supposed to, sometimes even on the right-hand side.
“Every day there are these violations,” Gordon-Findlay said.
He explained there are a number of indications that bus drivers will give other vehicles on the road that a bus is about to load and unload children.
There are amber warning lights as the bus is coming to a stop. Once the bus stops the amber lights change to red, and when the doors open two stop sign pop out of the left side of the bus.
“Majority of our buses have an indication in the middle of the back door that says caution, do not pass buses stopping. It’s written out that when the red lights are flashing do not pass,” Gordon-Findlay said. “There is a lot of indication of what we are doing, there’s no surprises here.”
He said when the lights are flashing, the bus operators are focused on students safely entering and exiting the bus, while also creating a safe space for the kids to cross the road.
He added when vehicles pass when the stop sign goes out, danger factors go up, putting students lives at risk.
“Their home could be right there and if a car comes through my red lights and through my stop signs, we can honk, we can yell, ‘stop,’ but by then it’s too late,” he explained. “A 4,000-pound vehicle is no match for a kindergartener.”
According to SD62, this is not only dangerous but also illegal.
Saanich police Const. Markus Anastasiades says tickets for this start at $368 and three demerit points.
The Saanich Police Department hasn’t given out any tickets for passing school buses yet this year, but will follow up on any tips.
“We get called by school bus drivers providing video evidence or statements saying this vehicle at this time did an unsafe pass while the stop sign was out, and we can ticket the owner of that vehicle for that offence,” Anastasiades said. “We also have drivers who are now more equipped than ever with dashcam footage that do submit their evidence to police and when it shows clear evidence we follow up.”
Gordon-Findlay told CHEK News he understands the constant stops behind a school bus can be frustrating, but he’s begging drivers to follow the rules.
“Those bad decisions can cost little kids lives,” he stated.