The Campbell River School District (SD72) and other districts around the province have seemingly been heard by the government in their call for increased fines for those who pass school busses.
Last September, the SD72 Board of Education added their voice to the call for increased fines in a letter to the province supporting the Peace River School District (SD60) initiative to bring the fines closer to other jurisdictions, where fines for passing a school bus with its lights flashing was up to $2,000.
Well, this week, minister of transportation and infrastructure Todd Stone and Mike Morris, minister of public safety and solicitor general, announced the fines will increase from $167 – one of the lowest fines in Canada for the offence – to $368.
“It is important that all motorists understand that passing a school bus with flashing lights is dangerous and puts children’s lives at risk,” said Stone in the announcement. “I want to thank the many parents, school bus drivers and school trustees who have brought this issue to the public’s attention. It’s a result of their tireless advocacy that we have increased the fines to send a message that the safety of our children must come first when driving near school busses.”
The call for increasing the fines was accompanied with a request that the penalty points associated with the infraction would also be increased, but the government has kept that number at three.
Secretary-treasurer of SD72, Kevin Patrick, said when the board was supporting the proposal from SD60 that people passing stopped school busses isn't as big a problem here as it is in other areas, but it is still important for districts to stick together on initiatives like this.
The reason it's not a big problem here, Patrick said at the time the letter of support was drafted, is because bus drivers in our district use what is called a "Baltimore Stop" in most pick-up and drop-off locations, meaning there is when the bus pulls all the way over to the curb – or even off the road entirely – "so that there is at least a bus-width between the children and the traffic."
The Ministry of Transportation is taking the opportunity of the fine increase to remind drivers that "when you see a school bus stopped with its red lights flashing, you must stop, too. You stop whether the bus is oncoming or you are behind the bus," and, "stay stopped until the bus moves on or the driver signals it's safe for you to proceed by turning off the flashing lights."
Failure to do so not only endangers the lives of children, the ministry says, but has now also gotten more expensive.