North Bay Police enforcing school bus safety
Published Saturday, March 13, 2021 11:55AM EST
NORTH BAY -- v> The North Bay Police Service is reminding drivers to watch out for school buses on week days and have increased enforcement throughout the month of March.
"We’re going to be targeting drivers who fail to stop for the school bus stop arm and the stop lights," explained Inspector Jeff Warner with the North Bay Police Service.
"The community safety zones in school areas we’re going to be targeting speeding infractions in those areas as well."
The month of March has been dedicated to school bus safety with community safety zones in effect across North Bay and Callander.
"I find with March, with the weather warming up and with the kids excited with the warm weather, the lockdowns over, some of the younger kids might not be paying much attention so we ask the drivers to be respectful of the school buses and just be respectful of their driving," said Warner.
There are several rules that drivers must follow during the school year including to always stop for a stopped school bus when its red lights are flashing and/or its stop sign arm is folded out. Obeying the stopped bus no matter how many lanes or what the speed limit is. Yielding to pedestrians and crossing guards in school zones and reducing speed to between 30-40 km/h.
"I can tell you that on a weekly bases we get one or two reports from school bus drivers themselves in relation to drivers failing to stop for the school bus when required to do so," said Warner.
"Those drivers can face fines of up to $2,000 and actually the offense can be, the owner of the vehicle can be charged, you don’t necessarily have to identify the driver."
Failure to stop for the bus can result in a fine between $400 and $,2000 and six demerit points for a first offense.
Executive Director of the Nipissing Parry Sound Student Transportation Services, Chuck Seguin, says this is an ongoing issue in the area.
"Through September to March of this school year we’ve been looking at about 119 operational days with school buses out on the road," he said.
"In polling the school bus operators in the area probably about 240-245 violations. Some of them reported to police, but certainly not all. So we know it’s happening more than twice a day."
He is on board with March safety month.
"We just want to raise the awareness [to] the public on the issue and assist police in their enforcement," he said.
"Letting them know what particular areas to be watching out for and helping them out strategically on time of day and location."
North Bay Police Service won’t say how many offices will be out or where because drivers should always be following these rules anyways.
"We don’t want people to necessarily know when we’re going to be out there so that they adjust their driving dependent to when we’re going to be out there. They should be mindful of this at all times, not necessarily just when police are around," said Warner.
"Pay attention to the school buses. They’re big, bright and yellow and they’re hard to miss when their lights are flashing," he adds.
Although not spring quite yet, Seguin says that drivers will also have to watch for kids walking and biking to school in the coming weeks on top of just the school buses.
"It’s very simple and school buses don’t operate throughout the day, they have a very narrow window of time both morning and afternoon in which they’re out there," he said.
"It’s critical during those times that drivers really pay attention when they see a school bus, you best expect that it will be making a stop sometime soon."
Police are asking drivers if they do see someone driving dangerously in a community safety zone or not following the school bus rules to either call 911 or the non emergency line at 705-472-1234 with as much information as they can remember about the incident.