DARTMOUTH: With students heading back to school next week, drivers are being reminded to watch for school buses.

Over 80,000 students travel by school bus every day, and their safety depends on all road users.

“During the 2016-2017 school year, we had over 1,500 school bus red light violations,” said Denise Crouse, Chair of the Nova Scotia Pupil Transportation Advisory Committee. “This number is alarming, and we are asking drivers to pay attention and stop when the red lights are flashing on a school bus as this means students are getting on or off the bus. When a car passes a stopped school bus, students are at risk of being injured or killed.”

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School board transportation departments have been collecting data from bus drivers to track the number of violations. School buses have been equipped with cameras on the stop sign arms to record violations, providing concrete evidence to law enforcement.

“The Nova Scotia School Boards Association has been working with various partners, including Safety Services Nova Scotia and the Nova Scotia Pupil Transportation Advisory Committee, along with government departments, to raise awareness of this very serious issue,” said Hank Middleton, President, Nova Scotia School Boards Association. “School board members from across the province have been hearing from their communities about school bus red light violations, and it’s very concerning.”

The ticket for passing a stopped school bus with its red lights flashing is over $400, as well as six demerit points on the driver’s license.

“This is a serious violation and carries a hefty fine,” says Middleton. “But of course the main concern is student safety. There is no safe way to pass a stopped school bus and motorists must remember that. One red light violation is too many, and 1,500 is very alarming.”

School Bus Safety Week will take place October 16-20. Safety Services Nova Scotia and the Nova Scotia School Boards Association will hold the annual student video contest. The contest opens in September, and the deadline for submissions is November 22. Prizes of $500 are awarded at the elementary, junior high/middle school, and high school levels.

More information is available at: www.schoolbussafety.ca.