School Bus Safety Rules The following information is useful for school bus riders and their parents. Rules for getting on the bus safely: 1. Be at the bus stop on time. Never run to or from the bus. 2. Wait at the designated stop in a safe place well back from the side of the road. 3. Remember the danger zone around the bus. The danger zone is anywhere close enough to the bus to touch it. The bus driver cannot see you when you are in the danger zone. 4. If you cross the street to get on the bus: when the bus comes, wait until it has come to a complete stop. The bus driver will make sure all the traffic stops. The stop arm will be out and the red lights will be flashing. Watch the driver. When the driver knows it is safe, he or she will signal you to cross, but watch for traffic yourself. Walk, don't run. 5. Hold the hand rail as you get on the bus. Don't push or shove. Rules for Safe School Bus Riding: 1. Take your seat promptly and sit properly, facing forward at all times. 2. Hold bags and parcels in your lap. Do not stick your feet into the aisle: someone might trip 3. Keep your head and arms-everything-inside the bus. Don't throw anything out the windows or around in the bus. 4. Talk quietly. The driver must concentrate to drive the bus safely. 5. Save snacks for snack time at school or till you get home. They may spill or you may choke if the bus goes over a big bump. 6. No fighting, shouting or playing in or around the bus. 7. Always follow the bus driver's instructions. Rules for leaving the bus safely: 1. When you leave the bus, hold the handrail and take two large steps away from the bus. 2. To cross the street in front of the bus, walk ahead at least ten giant steps (three metres). Cross only when the driver gives a signal. Cross the street in single file. 3. If you drop something near the bus, don't pick it up. Tell the driver or other adult. 4. If everyone is getting off the bus, the people at the front leave first. Do not push. 5. Be familiar with the rules for emergencies. Traffic Signs Related to Schools and School Bus Safety This sign warns that you are coming to a school zone. Slow down, drive with extra caution, and watch for children. The speed limit in this zone is lower during school hours. Observe the reduced speed limit shown when the yellow lights are flashing. This sign warns of a school crossing. Watch for children and follow the directions of the crossing guard or school safety patroller. This sign warns that you are coming to a school bus stop of which you may not have a clear view. Slow down, drive with extra caution, watch for children and for school bus with flashing signal lights. This sign is installed on multi-lane highways with no centre median divider. It informs drivers approaching from both directions that they must stop for a school bus when its signal lights are flashing. If you don't stop for a school bus, you can be fined $400 to $2000 and get six demerit points for a first offence. If you break the rule a second time, the penalty is a fine of $1000 to $4000 and six demerit points. You could also go to jail for up to six months. Information for parents Concerned about School Bus Safety In Ontario, over 800,000 students use school vehicles every day to get to and from school. Other students regularly use school vehicles for special programs, field trips and special travel needs. School vehicle travel is extremely safe. Parents can help to ensure that it remains safe by stressing school bus safety with their children. The following information may be of interest. What makes school vehicles safe? All buses built since 1980 meet safety standards developed by the Canadian Standards Association (CSA D-250) and set by Transport Canada the size and bright yellow colour make school buses very visible the school bus is designed to protect passengers from impact. The floor is raised, the window glass is shatter-proof, and there are strengthened reinforcements along the sides of the bus the flashing lights and stop arm that warn motorists that they must stop for a stopped school bus the high penalty (six demerit points and a substantial fine) for motorists who fail to stop for a school bus school bus drivers receive special training and licensing, rigorous examinations and must maintain a good driving record. What is Ontario's School Bus Stopping Law? Motorists in both directions meeting a stopped school bus with its overhead red signal lights flashing and stop arm extended must stop. The law applies everywhere, regardless of the posted speed limit - on highways, country roads, city, town or village streets. Only on highways separated by a median strip is oncoming traffic not required to stop. Why aren't seat belts required on school vehicles? Some parents are surprised to find that while seat belt use is mandatory in passenger vehicles, their children travel unrestrained in a school bus. School buses are designed to protect passengers through "compartmentalization". This means that school buses have: seats with high backs the seats positioned close together to form compartments seats filled with energy-absorbing material strong seat anchorages Parents also need to be aware of additional information about seat belts: to be effective, seat belts must be worn correctly (snug and low on the hips) for full protection. Seat belts which are not correctly worn may cause injuries. because school vehicles carry passengers from the very young to high school students, seat belt fit must be readjusted and use monitored to ensure safety. because of increased use, seat belts on school buses are subject to more wear and tear, and their condition must be monitored. studies using dummies have shown that adding seat belts to the current school bus seating arrangement can actually increase the chance of head and neck injuries in restrained passengers. How can school vehicle safety be improved? Most injuries to school vehicle passengers occur outside the school bus, as students are entering or leaving the bus, or crossing the street. Many of these mishaps can be prevented through education. School vehicle safety can be improved by teaching children the correct procedures and proper behaviour around school buses. Children should learn: to be at the school bus stop on time to wait in a safe place well back from the side of the road to know the danger zones around the bus where the driver cannot see them to enter the bus in single file, holding onto the handrail to find a seat right away, and stay seated, facing forward at all times to make sure that there is nothing in the aisle to do what the bus driver says it is unsafe to distract the driver throwing things, rowdy behaviour and eating or drinking are not allowed to keep heads and arms inside the bus Children leaving the bus must be careful: if they can touch the bus, they are too close they should stay away from the side of the road, not play on snowbanks if children drop something near the bus, they must learn to leave it and inform an adult; they should never pick it up because they may be out of sight of the driver If children must cross the street: children must walk at least ten big steps in front of the bus along the side of the road, and look at the driver before crossing children should look for a signal from the driver before walking across the street children should look all ways before crossing the roadway parents should meet children on the side of the street where the bus stops For more information contact your local school bus operator, local school board or police. School Bus Safety Rules The following information should be provided to children and their parents. These can be printed on the certificates issued to First Time Riders. They can also be used in the review of school bus rules in other situations as well. The following information provides some additional information for safe school bus riding. For ease of use and reproduction, these rules are also included in a separate section of this Guide. Rules for getting on the bus safely: 1. Be at the bus stop on time. Never run to or from the bus. 2. Wait at the designated stop in a safe place well back from the side of the road. 3. Remember the danger zone around the bus. The danger zone is anywhere close enough to the bus to touch it. The bus driver cannot see you when you are in the danger zone. 4. If you cross the street to get on the bus: when the bus comes, wait until it has come to a complete stop. The bus driver will make sure all the traffic stops. The stop arm will be out and the red lights will be flashing. Watch the driver. When the driver knows it is safe, he or she will signal you to cross, but watch for traffic yourself. Walk, don't run. 5. Hold the hand rail as you get on the bus. Don't push or shove. Rules for Safe School Bus Riding: 1. Take your seat promptly and sit properly, facing forward at all times. 2. Hold bags and parcels in your lap. Do not stick your feet into the aisle: someone might trip 3. Keep your head and arms-everything-inside the bus. Don't throw anything out the windows or around in the bus. 4. Talk quietly. The driver must concentrate to drive the bus safely. 5. Save snacks for snack time at school or till you get home. They may spill or you may choke if the bus goes over a big bump. 6. No fighting, shouting or playing in or around the bus. 7. Always follow the bus driver's instructions. Rules for leaving the bus safely: 1. When you leave the bus, hold the handrail and take two large steps away from the bus. 2. To cross the street in front of the bus, walk ahead at least ten giant steps (three metres). Cross only when the driver gives a signal. Cross the street in single file. 3. If you drop something near the bus, don't pick it up. Tell the driver or other adult. 4. If everyone is getting off the bus, the people at the front leave first. Do not push. 5. Be familiar with the rules for emergencies. Suggestions for Efficient Passenger Management: "Bus Rules" The following information is intended to provide school bus drivers with some ideas and suggestions for effective passenger management. The safe transportation of school vehicle passengers in a school vehicle must remain the top school vehicle safety priority. In order to ensure this, there must be co-operation between school bus operators, school vehicle drivers, students, their parents and the school and school board. The school bus is an extension of the classroom. Rules of acceptable conduct should be established and adhered to. A "Code of Conduct" should be established in partnership between the school bus operator, the school board and the school, with potential input from parents and students as well. To be effective, this information must be shared among the school, parents and students, school bus drivers and operators. The three principles which govern school bus safety are: 1. safety 2. order 3. respect Drivers are responsible for the physical and emotional safety of the children who ride on their bus, as well as for their own safety. The child must be confident that the bus is a safe place. The school bus driver has an obligation to maintain order and control. This control is compromised if passengers interfere with the service of the bus, or are doing things that will require resources to repair or deal with. Everyone on the school bus, drivers and passengers, must respect the rights of others. Behaviour which compromises this respect should not be tolerated. Any problem that occurs on the school bus will be the result of something interfering with one or more of these basic principles. The most valuable tools available to a bus driver are good judgement and common sense. Acceptable behaviour must be identified, and the sanctions for unacceptable behaviour must be clearly stated and conveyed so they will be understood by all. Different school organizations have different ways of ensuring this happens. For instance, Glen Park Public School, in North York, sends a letter home to all parents (whether their children use buses regularly or not) in the fall. This includes "school bus rules", and the sanctions for non-compliance. It also includes information for parents. Parents are required to read this information with their children, and both children and parents are required to sign and return a tear-off portion of the form to the school. Additional suggestions for ensuring good passenger / school bus driver relations: establish a school bus route schedule; make sure that passengers and parents are aware of the schedule be on time make sure passengers and parents are aware of the schedule and the appropriate bus stop for their children greet students (by name if possible), and say goodbye recognize and reward good behaviour make sure that children get off at their own bus stop on school trips, count passengers before leaving and after every stop in which students leave the bus always check the bus at the end of the run to make sure that all passengers have left the bus Establishing rules of conduct: students are expected to board the bus promptly and carefully, to take their seats and to make sure that book bags and other belongings are not in the aisle. students must remain seated and facing forward while the bus is in motion eating, drinking and smoking is not allowed on the school bus children may speak and chatter amongst themselves quietly, but crying out or shouting are not allowed passengers are not allowed to distract the driver passengers must not open windows without permission. passengers are not allowed to throw things about, or from the bus fighting or horseplay is not allowed The rules for safe school bus travel must be reasonable, clear and consistent, and conveyed to parents and children. the school bus driver is not only responsible for the safe transportation of school bus passengers, but also for their safety on the bus. Data provided by the Canadian Hospitals Injury Reporting and Prevention Program (CHIRPP) indicate that of about 350 injuries related to school vehicles, one- third were due to "horseplay or inappropriate activity" or "fighting". drivers should abide by District Board of Education, school and school bus operator policies. to avoid problems, rules and responsibilities need to be established early, communicated, and maintained in a fair and consistent manner. do not ridicule students, or embarrass them in front of their peers treat passengers courteously and firmly. By showing respect, you will receive respect in return. explain the consequences their actions will have, and then follow through. do not argue or debate: explain the behaviour expected; repeat if necessary so the student understands. Ask questions in a calm, respectful, curious voice. Avoid accusations by not asking "why are you ...". never lose your temper. You are a leader and a professional. do not touch students. If, for example, a student requests that a window be opened, either ask an older student to assist, or ask the student to leave the seat and then open the window: do not squeeze into the occupied seat. School Bus Safety: Route Planning Factors A number of elements contribute to school bus safety. One of these factors involves the school bus route. The following material provides some background information on school bus route planning. Route Planning Factors: the locations of the homes of the children who need to be picked up and dropped off, the ages and physical condition of the students being bused. the distance from the school, the transportation guidelines set by the district school board(s), and the school hours cost factors and the opportunity to share resources among schools, school boards and school bus operators the number of passengers being served and the area being serviced ease of loading and unloading at the designated school bus stops the safety of walking routes between homes and school bus routes the amount of traffic, the type of roads to be travelled and their condition, sightlines and stopping distances at proposed school bus stops other conflicting traffic factors such stop signs, traffic signals, etc. seasonal considerations (i.e. snowbanks); safe turn-around points for buses. When route layouts are being considered, the school bus operators and drivers can provide some valuable insight due to their hands-on experience and they should be involved in the process. The district school board transportation officer should be familiar with the physical characteristics of the route and should conduct periodic checks of the routes to ensure that safety factors are met. Loading and Unloading: some routing guidelines Street crossings: Loading and unloading are critical procedures where students are at greater risk. This is especially true when children must cross the street to board, or leave, their school bus. Routes should be designed to minimize the number of crossings which children must make to board or leave the bus. Wherever possible, passengers should be picked up and dropped off on the right hand side (home side) of the road. There are computer programs, in use in many school systems, which can help in developing safe routes. Drivers can also provide input on bus route and bus stop characteristics. Parents should be advised to meet their children on the side of the street where the child is being dropped off. A child excited to see his or her parents may forget school bus safety rules and run to the parent without waiting for the signal to cross. As well, procedures have been put into place for loading and unloading passengers, and for maximum safety, these must be followed at every stop. Loading and Unloading Procedures: Before stopping the bus to either load or unload, the driver must turn on the upper alternating red signal lights. The school bus driver normally stops the bus in the middle of the traffic lane. When the bus has stopped, the driver must extend the school bus stop arm. For passengers who are getting on or off the bus, the bus must remain stopped with the lights flashing and the stop arm extended until all passengers who must cross the roadway have completed crossing. This is mandated by the Highway Traffic Act and this procedure has been found to provide children who are entering or leaving the school bus with the greatest level of protection. The law applies everywhere, regardless of the posted speed limit or the type of highway. The only exception is on highways which are separated by a median strip. On some two- lane roads where traffic may be backed up by the school bus, some school bus drivers have pulled off the road to facilitate the pick up and discharge of school vehicle passengers. THIS COMPROMISES THE SAFETY OF ALL ROAD USERS. Motorists approaching the school bus do not know whether or not children are entering or leaving the bus, and therefore do not know whether they are responsible for stopping for the bus. When determining appropriate school bus stops, certain factors need to be taken into consideration: passengers should not be loaded or unloaded on a steep grade or on a curve. There should be a clear view of the road in each direction for at least 150 m. (500 feet). if the driver needs to stop near an intersection with traffic signal lights and use the red flashing lights and stop arm, the stop should be made at least 60 m from the intersection. if this is not possible, and if children must board or leave the bus at traffic signal lights, the driver must not activate the upper alternating red flashing lights and stop arm on the school bus. The stop should be made as close as possible to the intersection, close to the curb or the edge of the roadway. The passengers must be cautioned to obey the traffic signal lights. This is not advisable in route planning the school bus must stop on the travelled portion of the roadway and not the shoulder to load and unload passengers. New Law: The Highway Traffic Act has been amended to require that school buses stop at all railway crossings, whether the crossing is protected by gates or railway signal lights. The driver must stop the vehicle not less than 5 metres from the nearest rail of the railway; look in both directions along the railway track; open a door of the vehicle and listen to determine if a train is approaching; and, when it is safe to do so, cross the railway track in a gear that will not need to be changed while crossing the track. The driver must not change gears when the bus is actually crossing the tracks. The flashing lights and stop arm must not be activated. Some guidelines for school bus stops: make sure that bus stops are free from hazards. The bus driver is most aware of the potential for hazards and should inform authorities if the safety of the school vehicle passengers may be compromised. make sure that school bus stops are accessible in all kinds of conditions: will snowbanks force children too close to the road in the winter? weather and road conditions should be considered in determining school bus turning points: areas should provide good visibility of oncoming traffic and firm traction, even in adverse conditions. School bus operators should be aware that the school bus stopping law only applies to chrome yellow school buses as defined in the Highway Traffic Act, and only when loading or unloading children or adults with a developmental handicap. The drivers of other school purposes vehicles, and the passengers, must realize that they do not have the protection of the law as it applies to school buses. This necessitates extra caution in choosing places to stopas well as directing passengers as they enter and leave the vehicle. School Bus Stopping Law: Special Enforcement Program The following information provides some suggestions to school bus safety stakeholders for organizing programs to influence the behaviour of motorists around school buses. The Highway Traffic Act, which governs road user behaviour, is very clear on the responsibilities of motorists approaching a school bus: "Every driver or street car operator, when meeting on a highway other than a highway with a median strip, a stopped school bus that has its overhead red signallights flashing, shall stop before reaching the bus and shall not proceed until the bus moves or the overhead red signal-lights have stopped flashing." (HTA 175 (11)) "Every driver or street car operator on a highway, when approaching from the rear a stopped school bus that has its overhead red signallights flashing, shall stop at least twenty metres before reaching the bus and shall not proceed until the bus moves or the overhead red signal-lights have stopped flashing." (HTA 175 (12)) The penalties for illegally passing a stopped school bus were doubled in 1997. For a first offence, the penalty for not complying with the law is a fine of $400 to $2000 and the assessment of six demerit points. For a second conviction, the fine is $1000 to $4000, and the assessment of six demerit points, as well as the option of a jail sentence. While there has been little research into the actual incidence of illegal passing of school buses, anecdotal observation indicates that the problem is more widespread than the research has shown. To counter the problem, a number of communities have implemented awareness and enforcement programs. One of these programs has been successfully implemented in the Hamilton-Wentworth area. What ... about "special enforcement programs?" By working together co-operatively, stakeholders and local police services can initiate special enforcement programs to target illegal passing of school buses in communities. "Operation Bus Watch" is both an education and enforcement program that reminds the public of their responsibilities when encountering a stopped school bus. The program began in Hamilton-Wentworth in 1993. Similar programs have been instituted in a number of Ontario communities. Who ... is it for? "Operation Bus Watch" provides school bus drivers, school bus operators, parent groups and the local police with an approach to deal effectively with the problem of motorists who do not stop as required under the "School Bus Stopping Law". How ... Does it Work? The program provides school bus drivers or others who witness a violation of the school bus stopping law with the mechanism to provide information on the infraction to the police. Police can then follow up and issue warning letters to the owner of the car that was observed passing the school vehicle illegally. If the driver can be identified, police can lay charges. The program serves to raise awareness of the responsibilities of drivers around school vehicles. In order to establish a "Bus Watch" program, a number of factors must be considered. It is therefore necessary to determine, initially, which enforcement agency, or agencies have responsibility for the area in question. In some areas school buses travel on highways, county roads and local streets and a number of different operators have responsibility for providing school bus service. Once jurisdiction has been established, and co-operation among school bus service providers and police agencies has been established within the jurisdiction of the school board, a single witness reporting form and process should be developed. It is essential that the form capture all relevant information and is compatible with police procedures. It is also necessary to establish criteria in order that school bus drivers and others know the circumstances around the reporting of infractions. It must be stressed that the safe transportation of school vehicle passengers remains the top priority for drivers, and that information should only be recorded when it is safe to do so. If school bus monitors are available, they may be able to assist in recording information. Drivers should be provided with written guidelines to follow. The intent is to create a simplified but effective system to identify and deal with "stop arm runners". To improve the program's effectiveness, the public should be reminded of their responsibilities under the law, through information provided to the local media, news releases, radio public service announcements, etc. School bus drivers or witnesses who observe an infraction obtain the licence number, and as much additional information as possible about the offending motor vehicle and driver. An "Operation Bus Watch" report form should be completed. The form is submitted to the school bus operator who then faxes it to the police liaison officer. The police liaison officer obtains the appropriate vehicle registration information. The registered owner of the vehicle is sent a cautionary letter. At the discretion of the police officer, a charge may be laid against the driver. Once the program has been in place for some time, patterns related to illegal passing may be identified. Given the information which the "Operation Bus Watch" program has provided, it may then be possible to establish a more targeted enforcement blitz. (See Enforcement Program 2). When ... Does it Happen? The program can be implemented and scheduled at any time. Because of the heightened awareness of "back to school" issues, it makes sense to highlight the program during the "back to school" period early in September. The program can also be implemented as part of other school bus awareness programs during school bus safety week (October). Once established, the program should run smoothly and continuously. Where ...does the program take place? With the co-operation of local police, school bus drivers, school bus operators, school boards and the support of parent groups, an "Operation Bus Watch" program can be implemented anywhere. Why? School bus safety continues to be a high priority issue. The illegal passing of school buses which have stopped to pick up or discharge passengers continues to be an issue of concern for school bus drivers, parents, education officials and school bus service providers. School Bus Stopping Law: Special Enforcement Program 2 The following information is designed to provide school bus safety stakeholders with additional programming options for influencing motorist behaviour around school buses. School vehicle safety and the enforcement of Ontario's School Bus Stopping Law continue to be road safety priorities. Under the Highway Traffic Act, motorists are required to stop when meeting a stopped school bus which has its overhead signal-lights flashing and stop arm extended. The penalties for not stopping for a stopped school bus that has its overhead lights flashing and stop arm extended were doubled in 1997, and are among the most severe under the Highway Traffic Act: a fine of $400 to $2000 and the assessment of six demerit points. For a second conviction, the fine is $1000 to $4000 and the assessment of six demerit points and a possible jail term. With little research into the actual incidence of illegal passing of school buses, anecdotal observation indicates that the problem is more widespread than the research has shown. To counter the problem, a number of communities have implemented awareness and enforcement programs. A successful program in Hamilton Wentworth (information is available elsewhere in this guide) encourages school vehicle drivers and other witnesses to report when they observe illegal passing of school buses. Such a program can have educational benefits, as well as improving compliance. One by-product of such a program is the identification of school vehicle routes or locations where infractions occur more readily. If such locations or routes are identified, additional selective enforcement programs can be implemented. Thunder Bay has implemented a school bus enforcement program to deal with illegal school vehicle passing which involves the use of a police officer on the school vehicle and an unmarked police cruiser. Who ... is it for? "Operation Bus Watch" provides school bus drivers, school bus operators, parent groups and the local police with an approach to deal effectively with the problem of people who do not stop as required under the "School Bus Stopping Law". How ... Does it Work? A police officer rides on the regular route of a school vehicle for the morning or afternoon run. The police officer is in radio contact with a partner in an unmarked police vehicle. When the police officer on the school bus observes the illegal passing of a school vehicle which has its overhead lights flashing and stop arm extended the police officer notes the description of the offending vehicle, and if possible, of the driver. The police officer in the school bus then contacts the police officer in the unmarked cruiser. That police officer then stops the motorist who committed the offence. Police report that this type of enforcement program is labour-intensive. However, because the timing of the program corresponds to the times when school buses are carrying passengers, police report that the scheduling does not conflict with the times when police enforcement is at its most critical elsewhere. Should a more immediate need arise, the police abort the school vehicle enforcement program. This type of program is most effective on routes or at locations which have been identified through other means, as being "high risk". If witnesses have identified motor vehicles which have repeatedly passed stopped school buses, it makes sense to target enforcement. Another advantage of this program is that the "witness" component is taken over by police, who are both trained to note relevant details to improve the success of the enforcement and who take over this responsibility from the school vehicle driver, leaving the driver to concentrate on the responsibility of driving the bus. When ... Does it Happen? The program can be implemented and scheduled at any time. The actual enforcement corresponds to the morning or afternoon runs of the school buses. Police note that the program is not implemented when other known pressures restrict available police resources, including special events, inclement weather, etc, The program has the advantage of being completely flexible in its timing. Where ... does the program take place? The program can be implemented on just about any school bus route where problems with illegal passing have been identified. Why? School bus safety continues to be a high priority issue. The illegal passing of school buses which have stopped to pick up or discharge passengers continues to be an issue of concern for school bus drivers, parents, education officials and school bus service providers Resources Required: Co-operation and liaison with appropriate police agencies.
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