“When the flashing reds are on and the stop arm is out, you must stop.”
That’s the message from Pembina Hills Public Schools and the RCMP. But many people aren’t stopping. It’s called a ‘fly-by’—and it’s happening far too often.
Last school year the division transportation office received a whopping 123 reports of fly-by incidents (35 in-town, 88 rural). So far in the first half of this school year, 85 fly-bys have been reported (30 in-town, 55 rural)—that’s almost 40% more than last year.
Transportation Director Shantelle Haitel tells us, “These are alarming statistics. We’re frustrated and we want to do something to change that. We certainly don’t want to see any of our students harmed. These incidents, especially the near misses, create a lot of stress and anxiety for our drivers, the students on the bus and their parents.”
Haitel added, “We do work with the students to show them how to be aware of their surroundings and take precautionary measures when boarding or unloading the bus. But we have to remember – they are children. It is the responsibility of the adults in our communities to help keep these children safe.”
What are the rules?
It is illegal to pass a school bus when the red lights are flashing — the fine is $543 and six demerit points.
When a school bus is stopped and the overhead alternating red lights have been activated, traffic from both directions must come to a complete stop and remain stopped until the red lights have been deactivated.
What can we do?
As motorists, you must know the rules and drive with extra caution when approaching a school bus from either direction.
- The school bus driver will first signal to motorists that the bus will soon be coming to a stop to load or unload children by activating the overhead alternating AMBER lights.
- When the bus stops and the driver opens the door, the overhead alternating RED lights and side stop arm are activated. This means only one thing — the bus is loading or unloading children.
- Passing the bus when children are loading or unloading is dangerous, illegal and could be deadly.
As parents, please remind your children to be extra careful when getting on and off the bus. Teach them to always obey the bus driver’s directions and watch for traffic from either direction before crossing the road. Statistics show that most fatalities and injuries to school bus riders occurred during loading and unloading.
If you witness a fly-by, please report it, either to police or call the Transportation office at 780.674.8510. The more information you have the better, including a description of the vehicle involved (year, make, model, and license plate if possible), bus number, time of day, location, etc.
This video includes scary footage of fly-bys caught on camera, as well as an overview of traffic rules, and more. Thank you to Student Transportation Association of Alberta for allowing us to share this video.