Ontario implementing amber-red light system on school buses starting 2022
NORTH BAY -- Amber lights are coming to Ontario school buses in time for the start of school in 2022. The provincial government has passed Bill 246, a bill more commonly known as the Safer School Buses Act.
Those who have advocated for the lights say they are overjoyed.
"This is by far a big win for the Let’s Remember Adam campaign, and a big win for school bus safety," said campaign chairman Pierre Ranger. "There have been so many people involved to make this come to light."
How it works is bus drivers would flick on the amber lights. Motorists behind and approaching the bus would see the lights. Drivers can still pass the bus while the amber lights are on. It’s a warning that the bus is about to stop and flash its red lights and extend the stop arm. This is when drivers have to stop.
The bill was brought forward by Kitchener-Conestoga Conservative MPP Mike Harris. The amber-red light system is currently used in every U.S. state and every other province except Ontario.
"Anytime that we can do anything to increase the safety of students going to or coming home from school is a really great thing to do," Harris told CTV News.
Two amber lights and two red lights would be located on both the back and front of the bus. The Ministry of Transportation has required all school buses purchased in Ontario after Jan. 1, 2005, to be manufactured with eight overhead signal lights. For most bus models, this change would only require a replacement of the lens cap.
"With these amber lights being put on and hopefully stop arm cameras on all school buses, the buses will be 100 per cent safer," said Ranger. "I already know of a few bus companies who are ready to install the lights."
The Nipissing-Parry Sound Student Transportation Services said it’s fully committed to supporting this initiative and said it’s up to drivers to keep children safe when they are being picked up or dropped off.
"Anytime you're following a school bus or driving towards a school bus, you should be anticipating that they could be stopping," said executive director Chuck Seguin.
Provincial statistics say about 30,000 drivers illegally pass a school bus every day during the school year. In 2002, Transport Canada recommended all provinces use the amber-red system.
"This is something that’s long overdue in the province," said Harris. "I have five kids and this is something near and dear to my heart."
As for the Let’s Remember Adam Campaign, Ranger hopes more municipalities in Ontario install stop-arm cameras on all school buses. Ranger said he also would like to see fines be increased for people who are caught passing a stopped school bus.