Area detachments of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) are reminding motorists that school buses will return to area roads with school starting this week.
Motorists are reminded to exercise caution due to the expected increase in pedestrians, cyclists and school buses, and to give themselves extra commuting time. Students will no doubt be excited and may forget some of the safety rules required for safe travel.
OPP officers will be watching for drivers who disobey traffic laws in relation to school bus safety. A zero-tolerance approach will be taken. In accordance with the Highway Traffic Act (HTA), motorists encountering a stopped school bus that has its safety lights and equipment activated shall stop before reaching the bus and shall not proceed until the bus moves or the safety lights and equipment have been deactivated. This applies whether you are meeting or following a school bus and includes multi-lane roads. The only exception is when driving on a road with a median – traffic coming from the opposite direction is not required to stop. Vehicle owners can be charged if their vehicle illegally passes a stopped school bus, even if they weren’t driving.
The fine for failing to stop for a school bus is $400 to $2,000 and six demerit points for the first offence. Subsequent offences carry a fine between $1,000 and $4,000, six demerit points and possible jail time (up to six months).
Drivers should also be prepared to yield to student pedestrians and cyclists. Parents of students who will be walking or cycling to school are encouraged to speak with their children about the rules of the road that apply to them.