Palliser Regional Schools has been busy raising awareness regarding school bus safety with “Think of us on the Bus.” A campaign geared towards one important message — educating motorists not to pass buses when stopped with red lights flashing.
Last Tuesday, students gathered in the gym at Jennie Emery Elementary School in Coaldale for a “Think of us on the Bus” assembly, as Principal Sherrie Nickel introduced the Transportation Services Supervisor David Shaw for Palliser Regional Schools.
“What I heard him say this morning (last Tuesday) was there are 60 school bus routes that go back and forth to school every single day. He has a very, very big job and so do you. Every one of you, that rides the bus, is one of those kids on those 60 routes. You have a big, big job to do. To be responsible and respectful,” said Nickel to students, while turning over the microphone to the transportation supervisor for the third annual “Think of us on the Bus” bus safety campaign.
“It’s a three-prong program,” noted Shaw.
Shaw said the first two weeks of the program the media gets involved including radio, television and newspapers.
“They run ads for us and do interviews and all that kind of stuff to talk about bus safety, so the travelling motorists around the buses know what to do when they see our bus. That just finished last week (the week of Sept. 1),” said Shaw.
Part two of the campaign, Shaw added, is going into the schools to talk about bus safety and to educate students in regards to what their part in bus safety is.
“Because everybody plays a part on making sure we’re safe getting to and from school,” said Shaw, adding part three which is ongoing for the rest of the year, is when law enforcement gets involved — including the RCMP, the sheriffs, commercial vehicle enforcement and the Office of Traffic Safety.
“They help us to make sure that the motoring public stays aware and in those situations there may be a ticket involved,” added Shaw.
Shaw told students when a car passes a bus with the red lights flashing — it’s a $402 fine and if the police catch the driver that actually did it or see the driver passing the bus — it’s six demerit points off the driver’s licence.
“It’s a hefty fine but we have something that actually helps the police now. We have cameras on the buses. Some of you may see them. They have two cameras inside the bus and two cameras outside the bus. Now, the two cameras on the outside catch the vehicles that pass us when we’re stopped with our red lights flashing. The bus driver presses a button in the bus and then just lets me know what’s happening. They fill in a report. I go pull the tape and I send it to the police. The police use it just like photo radar. They send a ticket in the mail,” said Shaw, who pointed out Palliser bus drivers are well trained.
“Now, we just have to make sure that everybody knows their part to play,” he noted.
After Shaw spoke to students about bus safety, a power-point presentation followed with tips including never walk behind a bus. Shaw also borrowed the Six Bs from the Alberta Motor Association, which offer the tips be smart and pay attention, be safe and be aware, be seen and be an example to new students.