Event highlights school bus safety

There are around 2,700 students in the school district who rely on school buses, and everyone else on the road

There are around 2,700 students in the school district who rely on school buses, and everyone else on the road, to get to class and home again safely.

Unfortunately, not all drivers may be aware of the rules of the road when it comes to driving, and stopping, around school buses.

On Friday, Oct. 21, School District #83 will be taking part in a public education initiative to remedy this. Operation Safe Stop BC will see local bus drivers and other school district staff, as well as RCMP members, work together to better inform drivers, as well as students who rely on the school bus.

Some of those rules for drivers include knowing when to stop for a school bus dropping off passengers.

For example, when a bus stops on a two lane road, traffic behind the bus as well as traffic in front in the oncoming lane are required to stop. The same applies to a four-lane road without a median.

Yellow lights flashing on a bus mean it’s going to stop, while red lights mean students are boarding or disembarking. The goal of the Safe Stop is to educate drivers on the dangers of driving past the flashing lights of a stopped school bus.

SD83 transportation and operations manager Trevor Bettcher says school bus drivers often see traffic drive around their bus while dropping off or picking up students.

We’ve had close calls… personally, I drove school bus and had some close calls,” said Bettcher.

The school district will be handing out information at Askew’s in Sicamous and Armstrong, as well as in Salmon Arm at the Mall at Piccadilly. In addition, RCMP will be conducting a ride along with Sicamous bus driver Kathy Keam. This will be for the benefit of other drivers, as well as students who use the bus, who have their own rules to follow. For example, students are required to make eye contact with a bus driver before crossing a road. In addition, students coming to or leaving a bus stop must always walk in front of a waiting bus, not behind.

Also, students are not allowed to use electronic devices, be it cell phones or earbuds, while boarding or disembarking a bus.