Back-to-school bus safety reminders

Police will have increased patrols in and around school zones

Those long yellow vehicles on wheels are called school buses.

Motorists probably haven’t seen too many of them on the roads since the Ontario government hit the brakes on classroom learning in April when COVID-19 cases began to climb.

It’s back-to-school on Tuesday.

There will be stepped up police patrols in and around school zones.

Barrie Police spokesperson Peter Leon says motorists who are going to be driving through school zones must also keep an eye peeled for kids walking and biking to school, not to mention parents dropping their kids off on the first day of class.

“When a school bus is stopped and the stop arm is activated, and the lights are flashing, drivers must come to a complete stop in both directions.”

Not stopping for a school bus comes with fines ranging from upwards of $2,000 and six demerit points for a first offence.

There is always police enforcement in school zones, but the first few days back there is extra attention.

“Police services, as a rule, will always increase their presence in school zones,” says Leon. “Especially since it’s been quite some time since we have seen the buses on the road.”

Meanwhile, the first few weeks of the new school year for South Simcoe Police (SSP) is the annual “All Hands On Deck” safety campaign.

From Tuesday, September 7 to Friday, September 17, SSP will be deploying all available officers to ensure the new school year has a safe start.

“Expect an increased police presence in school zones throughout Innisfil and Bradford to encourage and enforce driver, cyclist and pedestrian safety,” SSP said in a media release. “Motorists are urged to slow down and put away your phone. Be extra vigilant as children will adjusting to new schedules, wearing masks and practising physical distancing while walking to school and at bus stops. Parents and caregivers are encouraged to talk with their children about safety. Give yourself extra time to avoid rushing and reduce the stress of the return to regular routines.”

SSP offered these reminders:
· Fine for failing to stop for a school bus with flashing lights and the extended stop arm is $400-$2,000 and six demerit points for a first offence
· Fine of up to $1,000 if convicted of distracted driving
· Fine of $400-$2,000 and six demerit points for speeding in school zones