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Information Bulletin - School Bus Safety Rules


October 4, 2007

Motorists play key role in school bus safety

EdmontonÖ The 265,000 Alberta students that start and end their day with a ride on a school bus arenít the only ones who need to be taught about school bus safety as most injuries happen before or after the bus ride. Drivers must respect the flashing lights on a school bus, which create a safety zone around the bus and are often children's only defence when they get on or off the bus.

Use caution and be alert when driving near buses and in school zones.

  • Watch out for alternating flashing amber lights, which means a school bus is slowing to stop where students will either be getting on or off the bus.
  • Slow down and stop when the school bus activates its alternately flashing red lights. This means you must stop whether you are approaching an oncoming bus or following one. The only exception to this rule is when the bus is on the opposite side of a two-way highway that is physically divided by a median.
  • Proceed only when the red lights on the bus have stopped flashing.
  • Watch for school buses loading and unloading children, even if the lights aren't flashing.
  • Be on the lookout for children crossing the road.

When travelling in school zones, drivers must pay attention to the posted signs. The speed for both urban and rural schools zones is 30 km/h unless otherwise posted. These limits are in effect on school days from 8 a.m.-9:30 a.m.; 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. and 3 p.m.-4:30 p.m. The fine for passing a school bus with its red lights flashing is $402 and six demerit points.

Some municipalities have bylaws not requiring school buses to use their alternating flashinglights when they stop. In this case, drivers do not need to stop but should still be cautious and watch for pedestrians when the buses are loading or unloading students.

Transport Canada has reported that school bus travel remains the safest mode of transportation to and from schools. Maintaining this safety requires motorists do their part too.

Improving traffic safety is one of the actions under Premier Ed Stelmach's plan to provide Albertans with safe and secure communities. Other priorities for the government are to govern with integrity and transparency, improve Albertansí quality of life, manage growth pressures, and build a stronger Alberta.

For more information about traffic safety, contact the Office of Traffic Safety at 780-422-8839 or visit http://www.saferoads.com/.

Editorsí note: Backgrounder attached

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Media enquiries may be directed to:

Jeanette Espie
Office of Traffic Safety
Alberta Transportation
780-427-6588
jeanette.espie@gov.ab.ca

Eileen McDonald, Communications
Alberta Transportation
780-422-0842  780-913-4609 (cell)
eileen.mcdonald@gov.ab.ca

   

School bus safety rules keep children out of harm's way

The greatest potential danger is not riding the school bus Ė itís before children get on and after they get off. Itís essential that parents and caregivers ensure children know and practice school bus safety rules to keep them out of harmís way.

Preparing your child

  • Practice the Point, Pause and Proceed crossing system with your children to ensure they know it: look in all directions before crossing the street; scan for danger left, right, ahead and behind; then point across the road with your hand and arm and proceed when safe. (When practicing, exaggerate your head turns and narrate your actions so your child knows you are looking left, right and left.)
  • Show your children how to secure loose drawstrings and other objects that may get caught in the handrail or door of the bus as they are boarding or exiting. Have their school things tucked safely away.

Getting to the bus stop

Younger children should walk with an adult to the bus stop and older children should walk in groups because there is safety in numbers and groups are easier for drivers to see. Ensure your children get safely to the bus stop.

  • Walk on the sidewalk; if there is no sidewalk, walk on the left side of the street facing traffic, staying as far away from vehicles as possible.
  • Be at the bus stop at least five minutes before the school bus arrives. Don't let children arrive at the bus stop too early as they may be tempted to wander or get into mischief.
  • Never run after the school bus to try to catch it if they miss the bus.
  • Wait for the bus at a safe place at least 10 giant steps away from the road. (Have younger children practice taking the steps to become familiar with this rule.)
  • Make eye contact with the school bus driver to ensure the driver sees them as they cross the street.
  • Use the Point, Pause and Proceed pedestrian crossing system. Keep checking for traffic as they cross.

Boarding the school bus

Show your children how to safely get on the bus and emphasize why these rules are important.

  • Wait for the bus to stop before approaching to get on. Stand 10 giant steps back from the road.
  • Stay away from the three danger zones - the front, sides and back of the bus - stand at least 10 giant steps away from the school bus. If children can touch the bus, they are too close.
  • Approach the bus only when the bus driver says it's safe to board.
  • Walk up the steps, one at a time, using the hand rail. Never run, push or shove.
  • Never pick up an item dropped near or under the bus. Tell the driver and follow his instructions.

Riding on the school bus

School bus drivers have an important responsibility and should not be distracted while driving. Instruct your children to obey the school bus driver at all times and:

  • take a seat as quickly as possible once inside the school bus;
  • sit facing the driver with their feet in front of them and put all belongings under the seat; and,
  • stay seated and talk quietly during the trip.

Getting off the bus

If you meet your child at the bus stop after school, wait on the side where the child will be dropped off, not across the street. Children can be excited to see you and forget the safety rules. Teach your children the following rules for getting off the bus safely.

  • Wait until the school bus comes to a complete stop before getting off. The bus driver will say when itís safe to get off.
  • Use the handrail when getting off the school bus. Do not push or shove.
  • Never pick up an item dropped near or under the bus. Tell the driver and follow their instructions.
  • Never go behind the bus.
  • Walk, never run away from the bus.
  • Take 10 giant steps away from the bus to get out of the danger zone.
  • Watch for the driver's signal that it is safe to cross the street.
  • Use the Point, Pause and Proceed crossing system when crossing the street.

Emergency evacuation the safe way

Make sure your children know emergency evacuation rules.

  • Listen to the driver's instructions for the correct exit.
  • Be calm, quiet and don't panic.
  • Leave all belongings behind.
  • Exit seat by seat alternating rows.
  • Leave the bus quickly without pushing or shouting. If stopped on railway tracks, go away from the tracks as far as possible in a direction (at a 45-degree angle) toward the train to avoid being hit by debris from the crash.
  • Walk to a safe place and stay together.

For more information about traffic safety, contact the Office of Traffic Safety at 780-422-8839 or visit http://www.saferoads.com/.

Media enquiries may be directed to:

Jeanette Espie
Office of Traffic Safety
Alberta Transportation
780-427-6588
jeanette.espie@gov.ab.ca

Eileen McDonald, Communications
Alberta Transportation
780-422-0842  780-913-4609 (cell)eileen.mcdonald@gov.ab.ca

To call toll free within Alberta dial 310-0000.