Island students have returned to school after March break, and police will be patrolling Island roads to help keep students safe.
This week, there will be a special enforcement initiative in areas where school officials have noticed repeated incidents of drivers illegally passing school buses.
“School buses are clearly visible, and we believe most people know they have to stop for the flashing red lights. This means illegal passing is likely due to driver inattention,” said Summerside Police Services Cpl. Jennifer Driscoll. “We urge everyone to pay full attention to driving, whether that be in a school zone, on a school bus route, or anywhere on our Island roads.”
Passing a school bus when its lights are flashing is dangerous and illegal. Drivers should slow down when the amber lights flash and come to a full stop when red lights appear. When approaching a school bus with red lights flashing, drivers must stop at least six metres (20 feet) from the front or rear of the bus and remain stopped until the flashing red lights stop.
"Every Island driver can make a difference by slowing down, following the rules and never driving while distracted," said Education, Early Learning and Culture Minister Jordan Brown. "Never pass a school bus when its red lights are flashing. We need to work together to eliminate this unnecessary risk to children.”
Drivers who illegally pass a school bus will lose their licence. Failing to stop for a school bus when the red flashing lights are activated will lead to 12 demerit points, resulting in suspension of the licence for three months. This is in addition to the fine of up to $5000.
In order for the licence to be reinstated, the driver must meet with Highway Safety, pay a $100 reinstatement fee, and take a defensive driving course within six months of the getting their licence back. After the reinstatement, the driver is on a demerit point probation in which any further demerits within one year will result in a further licence suspension.
“So far this school year, there have been 15 convictions for passing a school bus when red lights are flashing,” said Transportation, Infrastructure and Energy Minister Paula Biggar. “Of course, we prefer if this illegal and dangerous activity never happens in the first place, so we continue to work on raising public awareness about the risks of distracted driving.”