You probably come across school buses every day while driving. Do you know the rules motorists have to follow when driving near a school bus?
In 2013, there were 10,335 licensed school buses and minibuses in Quebec, each day transporting about 523,000 students. That’s about 54% of Quebec’s 970,000 pre-, elementary and high school students.
School transportation is very safe. Nevertheless, it’s important to be reminded of certain basic rules. In the rush of everyday life, various factors can cause motorists to be less vigilant while driving.
On the road
1. 4 amber lights flashing
When a school bus ahead of you has its four amber lights flashing, that means that it is about to stop, either to let students on or off or because it is at a railway crossing. You must slow down and prepare to stop.
2. Red lights flashing and stop arm extended
When a school has its alternating red lights flashing and its stop sign arm extended, you must bring your vehicle to a full stop more than 5 metres (16 feet) in front of or behind the school bus, when you are behind the bus or travelling in the opposite direction.
3. Passing a school bus
Motorists who pass a school bus with activated flashing lights may incur 9 demerit points and be fined $200 – $300. Other costs may also apply.
4. Median strip
When two lanes of traffic are divided by a median strip and you encounter a bus, you are not required to bring your vehicle to a stop, because the median provides protection.
5. Road signs in school zone
Signs are posted in school zones to remind you of the rules of the road. Be extra careful when you see road signs indicating the beginning of a school zone, the applicable speed limit and school crossings.
In the schoolyard
The 46% of students who don’t take the bus to get to school probably walk or get a ride with their parents. You should be extra careful when driving through a school neighbourhood, particularly around the times that school starts and ends for the day.
What’s more, parents who drive their kids to school premises should be particularly vigilant and keep an eye out for kids standing between two parked vehicles.
There are things that you, as a motorist, can do to help keep children safe when travelling near a school bus, whether on the road or in a school zone. If you’re also a parent, go over the safety rules regularly with your children, so they know what they need to do in and around the bus.