School Bus Travel Safety - Diamond and Diamond Lawyers
  • Monday, 20 March 2017

School Bus Travel Safety

#AskJoshuaHimel

With approximately 825,000 children riding the bus to and from school every day, parents should be very grateful that the Ontario School Bus Association takes extra precautions to make sure that accidents are very rare on school buses and very rarely fatal. Transport Canada says that school buses are one of the safest modes of transportation due to provincial legislation and regulation, inspection and maintenance practices of the bus company, policies and procedures that regulate the operation of buses, strict driver qualifications, and even the design and construction of the buses themselves.

School bus protective measures

School buses are very visible and known for their bright yellow colouring and flashing lights on the top. They must meet strict standards that create a quick, efficient evacuation, make the bus fire retardant, and offer the utmost crash protection. Additional safety features, such as steel beams that run the length of the bus and a steel cage protecting the fuel tank are much less visible. Although seatbelts aren’t required on a school bus, passengers are protected through a process called compartmentalization. The bus seats are high-backed, thickly padded, and closely spaced to prevent injury in the event of an accident.

Inspections and regular maintenance are also part of what make school buses safer than other vehicles. The buses are subject to two mechanical inspections per year, roadside spot checks, and daily checks by the drivers. Drivers are required to meet exceptional qualifications. They spend hours in specialized training, are subject to medical checks, and must pass a criminal background check.

Not just a driver’s responsibility

The safety of school buses is not only the responsibility of the drivers and companies controlling the buses, but of the children and other drivers around the bus. It is important for other drivers to know that it is against the law to pass a stopped bus that has its sign out and red lights flashing. A driver should allow enough space, whether stopped in the opposite lane facing the bus or stopped behind the bus, to give children entering or exiting the bus enough room to do so safely. The first offense for passing a stopped school bus can result in a fine between $400 and $2,000 and six demerit points. Each following offense may be punishable by fines ranging from $1,000 to $4,000, six demerit points and jail time of up to six months.

Teaching children to be safe in and around a school bus is also important. Teach children about the Danger Zone. If you can touch the outside of the bus, you are too close, and be sure you can see the driver and the driver can see you. Teach children to arrive at the bus stop before the bus gets there and to wait in a safe place. Always cross the street in front of the bus where the driver can see you and only when he or she motions you to cross. Never cross the street behind the bus.

Once on a bus, children should be seated as quickly as possible and stay facing forward at all times while the bus is moving. Don’t place objects in the aisles and keep your head and arms inside the bus. Always follow the bus driver’s instructions and never distract the driver.

Nearly 16,000 school buses hit the road every day in Ontario. Playing your role efficiently, whether a driver, passenger, or bus driver, can be one of the most important things you do every day to keep our children safe.

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