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EDITORIAL: School buses are back on the road and red means stop

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With another school year underway, we are once again reminding drivers to watch out for students heading to and from school.

And since in too many cases a giant yellow bus with red lights flashing and a stop sign activated isn’t enough to get all motorists to stop, please heed these words: Red means stop.

When you see a school bus with its red lights activated, it is imperative that you stop since the alternative can be tragic. To put it bluntly, it could lead to injury or death.

Over 80,000 students in Nova Scotia travel by school bus every day. Last year, provincewide, there were over 1,500 school bus red light violations.

Year after year, school boards amass a growing list of cases where motorists do not stop when a school bus’s red lights and stop sign are activated. These violations happen every month of the school year.

Despite awareness campaigns and media stories, the number of violations has gone up each of the past few school years.

It leaves the school board members concerned, frustrated, bewildered, angry and scared.

We should all share in these emotions.

Motorists must be mindful of students who travel to and from school on school buses, just as you keep an eye out for those walking to school.

As much as bus drivers, parents and teachers remind students to be careful when getting on or off a school bus, sometimes students can be distracted. They’re kids. But most of the time students take for granted that the safety equipment on buses will keep them safe.

And why wouldn’t they?

This is among the earliest lessons most people learn in life: red means stop.

If the red light violations are being done intentionally, then we say to motorists there is no place you need to get to in such a hurry that you can’t stop for the one minute or so it takes to stop for a bus.

If it is happening because drivers are distracted, then drivers need to pay more attention.

School boards have resorted to installing cameras on buses to identify violators if charges are laid and have urged the province to increase monetary fines and licence penalties as a deterrent.

The RCMP also patrol areas where incidences of red light violations are particularly high, and try to be on the road at other times too. But the police can’t be at every bus stop every morning and afternoon of the school year.

And so parents should remind their children not to take their safety for granted and to make sure oncoming vehicles have stopped before they cross the road to get on or off their school bus.

But the onus really shouldn’t be on the kids.

As motorists, let’s ensure we all do our part to keep all students safe.  

Stop on red.

It’s the only option.

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