11:30 a.m., Dec. 13)
bus running reaching epidemic proportions in Orléans
By Fred Sherwin
A growing number of motorists are ignoring
the flashing lights and extended stop signs
on school buses in Orleans. The problem is
causing a great deal of concern among school
bus operators worried that it is only a matter
of time before a student gets seriously hurt
or worse. File photo
Allard came dangerously close to living every school bus
driver's worse nightmare last Friday. The ML Bradley driver
had given the all clear for two students to cross the
street in front of his bus when a car came out of nowhere
ignoring his flashing lights and extended stop sign.
was looking in my mirror as the kids were crossing and
I see this Dodge 4x4 coming. Instinctively I sound my
horn and it's pretty loud. One of the kids was with a
grandparent and she grabbed the kids and pulled them out
of the way just as he swerved up and over a snow bank
and down a side street, He was only a couple of metres
from them when he swerved. It was just real real lucky
no one got hurt," said.Allard.
incident is just the latest case in what;s becoming an
epidemic in Orléans. School bus operators are reporting
more and more incidents of drivers ignoring their flashing
lights and driving past their buses, endangering the lives
of their young passengers.
happening every day on almost every run," says ML
Bradley owner Kathleen Both. "This is the worst it's
every been. People are either in a rush or their on their
phones and they drive right by. We've even had cars drive
by on the right hand side and sooner or later a child
is going to get seriously hurt or worse."
a school bus's flashing lights carries a minimum $400
fine up to a maximum $2000 fine along with six demerit
points. Unfortunately it's nearly impossible to catch
an offending driver unless they are caught red-handed
by a police officer who happens to be at the scene.
order to successfully prosecute a school bus runner, they
have to be positively identified. Because school bus drivers
sit higher than most vehicles, positively identifying
an offending driver is virtually impossible.
the case of last week's near miss, Allard never saw the
driver's face. He did drive down the side street and located
the 4x4, but he still had kids on the bus and had to continue
on his route.
I didn't have any kids on the bus, I would have parked
it at the end of his driveway and waited for the police,"
ML Bradley operator Joanne McGuire says the number of
school bus runners is the worst she's seen in her 28 years
driving a bus.
been really bad this year. They just go right by you,"
said McGuire whose daily route includes one of the worst
stops in Orleans at the corner of Charlemagne and Valade
where she's constantly being passed especially by oncoming
traffic. "It's four lanes there and people don't
realize they still have to stop. It's very frustrating
and very scary."
says the problem is lack of awareness of basic traffic
laws regarding school buses in addition to an increase
in distracted driving.
need to be more aware of these laws and more focused when
approaching a school bus,"
says Both who is also frustrated with the lack of support
they are getting from law enforcement.
recalls when an unmarked car and a motorcycle cop monitored
a stop on her route last year and charged three drivers.
They were only their the one time and didn't come back.
charging three drivers at one stop on one day doesn't
tell you there's a problem that needs to be addressed,
I don't know what will," says McGuire.
would like to see the police undertake a blitz to address
what is a growing problem, but over the long-term she
would like to see the province launch a campaign aimed
at driver awareness similar to the "At My Stop, You
Stop".campaign which ML Bradley tried to promote
during School Bus Safety Awareness Week, but with limited
campaign tries to educate motorists and students alike.
Amog the rules motorist must obey are never pass a school
bus when its red lights are flashing even on a four lane
road where there is no median; stop at least two car lengths
behind the bus; remain stopped until the the overhead
stop lights have stopped crossing; and when approaching
a school bus in oncoming traffic, stop far enough away
to allow students to cross the road well ahead of your
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