by Randy Youngman
School buses play an important role in the lives of many of our children. As passengers on our roadways, their safety is first and foremost on the minds of all school bus operators. The safety record of Alberta school buses is extremely good and should be applauded.
Alberta has more than 5,000 school buses safely transporting about 265,000 children to and from our schools every day. School buses in Alberta travel more than 400,000 kilometers every day – that’s equivalent to about 10 times around the earth!
The most dangerous time in a school bus passengers’ day is when they transform from “school bus rider” to pedestrian and leave the bus. Disembarking and embarking on a school bus are easily the some of the most dangerous moments of their trip. This is where you, as a driver, can make a difference.
Please, do not park in school bus loading and unloading zones. This can cause unnecessary and dangerous situations causing children to enter the roadway in an unseen or unsafe manner. When driving around school buses, drivers must always extra caution as young children and their movements are not always predictable. A child can run around the front or back of a bus and enter the roadway almost unseen to a driver.
Ensure you “read” the school buses lights and signs. If you see a buses lights flashing red, at the rear, this means you must stop. If the yellow “caution” lights are alight, this means you need to proceed around the bus with extreme caution.
Always encourage your children to cross the roadway at marked crosswalks. This does afford them with an element of safety as the signage present and roadway markings alert vehicle drivers to the possible presence of pedestrians.
When driving in and around school zones and areas, ensure you are constantly on the lookout for our little pedestrians and their unpredictable ways. Know your local laws and how they pertain to school bus stops as different locales may have different bylaws. Always err on the side of safety! A child’s life may depend on it.
Randy Youngman is a regional traffic safety consultant with the Alberta Office of Traffic Safety and can be reached at 403-458-1890 or [email protected].