School District 83 will be taking a hard look at bus safety, with an aim to increase awareness and enforcement of laws. (File photo)

School District 83 buses struck by vehicles five times in past 13 months

Board plans to put a new focus on bus safety in light of reports

Drivers are not giving school buses the respect they deserve, according to school district reports.

District school buses have been struck by vehicles five times in the last 13 months, along with numerous reports of drivers passing buses with the flashing red lights on, according to Superintendent of Schools Peter Jory. He reported during the Dec. 18 school board meeting in Salmon Arm that the district is moving forward with a bus safety program.

“This type of driving practice poses a risk to our children and we need to start raising awareness,” Jory commented.

He added the district will be working with RCMP on enforcement of driving laws, and there are already cameras in some of the buses which capture evidence of drivers who break the rules. The district will be doing an information and enforcement campaign to raise awareness about driving safety around school buses.

Related: Transport Canada to take new look at rules, research on school bus seatbelts

He noted the district’s transportation department has, in past years, taken part in various national and provincial bus safety campaigns to improve awareness about driving near school busses, but Jory noted the issues seem to be more frequent as of late and more awareness is needed.

During the meeting, the topic of seatbelts on school buses came up, with trustee Marty Gibbons noting that there may soon be federal regulations on the matter.

“Transport Canada is looking at making changes on this very topic and requiring seatbelts. If that is coming down the pipe, we should be prepared and forward thinking,” Gibbons said. “Something that puts us at a high risk is a lot of transport being done on main highways, which leads to greater speed and risk. We have some unique needs.”

It was brought up, however, that adding seatbelts to school buses is not a simple process. New seats with built-in seatbelts would need to be purchased for all current buses, and new buses would need to be ordered with this in mind.


 

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