‘Watch For Me’

Slower is safer, says RCMP in quick course for mo­torists on school bus safety

The Amherst News - - REGIONAL - By Lawrence Pow­ell The Spec­ta­tor

School buses are bright yel­low for a rea­son. Add flash­ing am­ber and red lights and they’re hard to miss on streets and high­ways – but peo­ple do.

Ev­ery year driv­ers pass those bright yel­low buses when those red lights are flash­ing, putting chil­dren in dan­ger. In fact, dur­ing the first week of school po­lice of­ten re­ceive an in­creased num­ber of re­ports of driv­ers pass­ing school buses while their flash­ing red lights are on.

This year school starts on Sept. 6 for most stu­dents in the An­napo­lis Val­ley Re­gional School Board area.

RCMP Const. Dave Fair­fax said that while tick­ets are usu­ally is­sued in th­ese cases, po­lice are more con­cerned that this sit­u­a­tion could re­sult in a tragedy. He said as a re­sult, the RCMP will be con­duct­ing ex­tra pa­trols across Nova Sco­tia to en­sure our chil­dren are safe.

Fair­fax is School Safety Re­source Of­fi­cer for An­napo­lis District RCMP and he’s de­ter­mined that mo­torists will get the mes­sage – just slow down when you see a school bus.

“By re­duc­ing your speed around school buses, es­pe­cially when they are dis­tribut­ing their am­ber or red lights, you’ll have more time to re­act to the un­ex­pected and avoid dan­ger­ous sit­u­a­tions,” he said. “Please re­mem­ber -- in our school zones -- slower is safer.”

The An­napo­lis District RCMP started early on their cam­paign of school bus safety by tak­ing part in the An­napo­lis Val­ley Ex­hi­bi­tion pa­rade Aug. 14 in Lawrence­town. They had two big buses and kids hand­ing out in­for­ma­tion on the topic. Watch For Me, Stop for Me is the cam­paign theme pro­moted by po­lice and the school board. De­tach­ment com­man­der StaffSgt. Dan MacGil­livray drove an RCMP SUV in the pa­rade in the aware­ness cam­paign.

School Zones

“As we pre­pare for the be­gin­ning of a new school year, the RCMP will be tar­get­ing school zones across Nova Sco­tia to en­sure our chil­dren are safe and re­mind mo­torists to be driv­ing with care and cau­tion,” MacGil­livray said.

Pay­ing at­ten­tion to the task of driv­ing is the sim­ple mes­sage. Don’t get dis­tracted, get fo­cused.

Red flash­ing lights are used when the school bus is stopped to pick up or dis­charge stu­dents

You must stop when red lights are flash­ing, whether you are be­hind or in front of the bus

Do not pass a school bus with flash­ing red lights at any time or place from ei­ther di­rec­tion, in­clud­ing a di­vided boule­vard

20 me­ters is the cor­rect stop­ping dis­tance from both in front and be­hind the bus

If you don’t heed the above, then you put chil­dren at risk.

Vi­o­la­tions

If you don’t heed the above you also put your pocket book at risk.

The penalty for il­le­gally pass­ing a school bus – red lights flash­ing – is the loss of six points against one’s li­cense (which may trig­ger a re­view of your li­cense) and a fine start­ing at $410. That’s for a first of­fence. Do it again and the fine is $697.50, and a third of­fence is $1,272.50.

You can also be fined for fail­ing to pro­ceed with cau­tion when pass­ing a school bus with am­ber lights flash­ing. That starts at $295 and goes up to $467.50 for the sec­ond of­fence, and $812.50 for a third in­frac­tion.

“School bus safety is ev­ery­one’s re­spon­si­bil­ity,” said MacGil­livray. “Mo­torist are re­minded to be ever aware of chil­dren es­pe­cially in ar­eas where school buses travel. One never knows when a child might dart out into on­com­ing traf­fic.”

School Zones

Fair­fax said driv­ers must also pay close at­ten­tion when they en­ter school zones.

“School zones are in ef­fect 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days of the year, when chil­dren are present in the school zone area,” RCMP said in the in­for­ma­tion pack­age handed out at the Val­ley Ex pa­rade.

The speed limit drops to 30 km/h in ar­eas where the ap­proach­ing speed limit is 50 km/h, when chil­dren are present.

In ar­eas where the speed limit is higher than 50km/h ap­proach­ing a school zone, driv­ers con­tinue to be re­quired to re­duce their speed to a max­i­mum of 50km/h when chil­dren are present.

Speed fines and penal­ties are de­pen­dent on the de­gree at which the mo­torist is above the re­duced speed limit in the school area and range from $352.50 to $697.50 – with two to four penalty points.

Cross­walks

Po­lice also want driv­ers to pay close at­ten­tion to is cross­walks.

Fail­ure to yield to a pedes­trian in a cross­walk is four points against your li­cense and a fine start­ing at $679.50.

The handout at the pa­rade had some good ad­vice on that topic as well.

Watch for kids be­tween parked ve­hi­cles and on side­walks or side of the road.

Parked or stopped ve­hi­cles may hide a pedes­trian cross­ing the road.

Do not park within 5 me­ters of a cross­walk, whether marked or un­marked.

Be very cau­tious of back­ing out of a park­ing spot or drive­way.

Fair­fax said the RCMP en­cour­ages fam­i­lies to take time to talk to chil­dren about road safety. Re­mind them to look both ways be­fore cross­ing the street, make eye con­tact with driv­ers and wait

for them to stop be­fore cross­ing the road, and pay close at­ten­tion to on­com­ing traf­fic.

“We want to make sure your kids stay safe.”

More In­for­ma­tion

If you would like more in­for­ma­tion on the rules of the road, you can con­tact your lo­cal po­lice, view the Nova Sco­tia Driver’s Hand­book at www.no­vas­co­tia. ca/sns/rvm­lin­cence/hand­book. asp, and visit www.school­bus­safety.ca

Lawrence Pow­ell

Stu­dents handed out in­for­ma­tion on school bus safety Aug. 14 at the An­napo­lis Val­ley Ex­hi­bi­tion pa­rade in Lawrence­town. ‘Watch For Me, Stop For Me’ is the cam­paign theme. Au­to­mat­i­cally slow­ing down when you see a school bus, or when you en­ter a school zone, is the first step.

Lawrence Pow­ell

‘Watch For Me, Stop For Me’ is the RCMP school bus safety cam­paign slo­gan and po­lice are urg­ing mo­torists to heed some sim­ple ad­vice to keep chil­dren safe – like slow down when you see a school bus.

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