One Penticton school bus driver is calling out the bad drivers she’s seen on her daily route through the city.
Heather Carrigan drives the route 59 school bus for Berry & Smith Trucking Ltd., which travels out to Naramata and along Carmi Avenue in Penticton. She said since the school year started only a few weeks ago, she’s seen many drivers blow by the bus despite having the flashing yellow overhead lights on, a signal that drivers are to begin stopping.
“Cars running school bus’s overhead flashing lights is an issue for sure. On that particular run she seems to have more vehicles doing it there than other areas, so yeah it’s a big risk for student safety and it’s a problem,” said Matt Berry with Berry & Smith. “If the yellows are flashing, you should be slowing down to stop. And we have a rule that there needs to be a sight line of 60 metres for traffic, so we activate the lights within 60 metres (of a stop).
“Sometimes what we’ll have happen is cars will stop, then they’ll take a look and then they’ll go again. If those lights are on, those cars have to stop. Even police cars and fire trucks have to stop for the flashing lights.”
Berry said the company’s bus drivers are asked to record the licence plate number of any vehicle they see operating dangerously or posing a risk to student safety, and this is filed to Berry & Smith with “a description of the driver and description of the vehicle, and then the information is sent to the RCMP.”
“The RCMP are very good about following up with each and every incident that we submit to them, and then ultimately the driver is charged,” said Berry. “So we’re trying to work with the RCMP to crack down on these drivers.”
Berry added that some of the buses in the fleet have dash cams that can provide further evidence of a traffic violation, but he said they are sensitive to privacy laws and the sharing of information. Carrigan said she chose to share what she had been seeing on her route to remind other drivers of why it is important to follow these traffic laws.
“(All of us school bus drivers) feel the safety of the students is our number one priority. Perhaps repetition of the topic of school bus lights will make people more aware of how dangerous these actions are to the point of modifying their behaviour,” said Carrigan. “Everyone wants their child home safely, so please ensure you stop when you see a school bus with its overhead lights flashing, and remain stopped until the lights are turned off. The extra few seconds this takes may save a life.”
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