B.C. Driver Alert: When the School Bus Stops, You Stop

From September to June, parents in rural areas send their children off to school on the big yellow school bus, trusting that their child will get to class and back home safely each day. They are counting on motorists to do the right thing (the law-abiding thing) by coming to a complete stop when approaching a school bus with its red lights flashing.

Sadly, not everyone does stop when the school bus lights are flashing and kids could be on the road. And every time someone doesn’t stop for the bus, a child’s life is at risk. This is becoming a concern in School District No. 60 (Peace River North) near Fort St. John. The area has a very young population and the highest birthrate in B.C. That’s a lot of kids of all ages walking on highways to board the bus, or to head home after stepping off the school bus.

Stop for School Bus Sign

Around Fort St. John, school bus drivers are seeing motorists “running” school buses (just like running a red light or stop sign – and just as dangerous) on a daily basis.

“School bus drivers document the offending vehicle’s licence plate number and file reports to the police, who then press charges,” says School District No. 60 Safe Stop Coordinator Cindy Dettling. “It is sad, but drivers need to be reminded of the importance of stopping for the flashing lights of school buses.”

To bring attention to the issue, the school district and the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure hold an annual “Safe Stop” event where the big yellow buses are parked around town to attract attention. School district employees and other safety allies talk to people and hand out “Safe Stop” flyers, and a Commercial Vehicle Safety and Enforcement officer is there to speak drivers and the public.

“Basic poor driving is putting busloads of kids in jeopardy,” says our Area Manager Florian Kund, who has a niece nearing school age. Florian is acutely aware of past school bus tragedies and where there have been near misses.

Remember

Adam Ranger was five years old when he was killed by a truck near his driveway, after exiting a school bus, in 2000, in Ontario. Adam’s family channelled some of their grief and anger into the “Let’s Remember Adam – Stop for the School Bus” campaign which continues today.

“I often wonder what kind of man he would be, what he would do for a living, and what his job would be,” Adam’s brother Pierre Ranger told CBC News. “But, I’ll never get to find out because someone didn’t stop for the bus lights.”

Remember Adam
So, next time you see a school bus stopped with its lights flashing, remember Adam, youngsters in the Peace area and kids everywhere. Think also of the parents, siblings, grandparents, relatives, friends and neighbours who are waiting for the children return home safely. Then stop.

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Page 1 of 19 comments on “B.C. Driver Alert: When the School Bus Stops, You Stop”

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  1. This has been a serious issue out in coffee creek area. My kids get picked up at 7:30 am and Lyndon Sub Rd. Yesterday vehicles kept on driving by. The bus driver and myself have honked but no one listened. We also don’t have signs out there that say bus stop ahead please stop for bus in this area. But it’s becoming a much more serious problem. If there’s a way we could get signs that would be great as that’s the only bus stop on the highway for one of the bus drivers and it’s a busy area.

    Reply
    • Hello Michelle and thanks for connecting with us here to share your concern. We ask that you connect with ministry staff in our Nelson office to discuss signage, etc. Here’s their contact info:

      West Kootenay District
      310 Ward Street, 4th floor
      Nelson, BC V1L 5S4
      Telephone: 250 354-6400
      Fax: 250 354-6547

      Reply
  2. As a school bus driver, my colleagues and I are quite concerned about one type of stop. In the past, a couple of Supervisors ago, we were always told NOT to stop the bus with lights and signs activated on a 4-lane or multi lane road or highway. This makes sense to us as the further to the left of the bus oncoming traffic is away from the bus, the less likely they will stop. I am having trouble finding some good literature or words on this and have looked through various sources including, the Motor Vehicle Act, Smart Driver BC , and the Commercial Driving manual from ICBC which, uses out of date pictures of a bus on a 2 lane road. As roadways tend to get or be built larger, this grey area should be addressed much more specifically and definitively. Could you please advise me where exactly to find the material on this? I am expressing my concern to our new supervisor about a certain stop that I feel will be dangerous. Thank you

    Reply
    • Hello Rory and thanks for connecting with us here about your concerns. We shared your comment with our engineering group and they let us know that School Boards are in-charge of their bus operations and they meet on a regular basis to discuss operations, including busing operations. As no two regions are the same, and all have different road networks, that school boards in each of their respective regions develop their own guidelines for bus operations, and how pick-ups and drop-offs are done.

      On multilane highways the issue is likely based on lack of driver training where drivers often think the no-passing applies to the lane the bus is in, so OK to go around where an open lane exists, which essentially is not an option on two-lane, two-way highways.

      For the most part, school buses with flashing lights operate on urban two-lane two-way streets and rural two-lane, two-way roads that generally are not moving interprovincial commerce.

      They also referenced the BC MVA (which you noted you’d reviewed) as below.

      https://www.bclaws.gov.bc.ca/civix/document/id/complete/statreg/96318_05#section149

      Meeting school bus
      149 The driver of a vehicle on a highway, on meeting or overtaking a school bus
      (a)that is designated as a school bus,
      (b)that is stopped on a highway, and
      (c)on or near which a sign or signal is displayed indicating the school bus is receiving or discharging school children,
      must stop the vehicle before reaching the bus and not proceed until the bus resumes motion or the driver of the bus signals to other drivers that it is safe to proceed.

      Hope this helps!

      Reply
  3. Maybe the kids should be taught to use the next intersection rather than rely on drivers to stop for the bus? Some of the places the buses stop with their stop sign out cause drivers to stop in fairly dangerous places.

    Reply
    • Hi there Sam – thanks for your comment.

      Wherever possible bus drivers and their students do try to stop and allow for crossings in the safest possible location (near or at a crosswalk); however, when a crosswalk isn’t available, school bus drivers need to stop in other locations and your help in understanding is greatly appreciated!

      Reply
  4. What is the rule when you meet a school bus stop letting kids out just begore a 4 way intersection or at a T intersection. I have looked everywhere and I can’t find what the legal law is.

    Reply
    • Hi Lorraine – thanks for your comments. Whenever you see a school bus stopped with its red lights flashing, you must stop too. This rule applies to straight stretches and intersections. Stay stopped until the bus moves on, or the driver signals that it is safe for you to proceed, by turning off the flashing lights. Hope that this is helpful!

      Reply
  5. Stopping traffic on both sides of the road is stupid and dangerous. Traffic following a school bus should stop. Children should be taught road safety, and the ones stupid enough to flaunt this suffer natural selection.
    Canadas roads freeze in winter. Coming around the corner to a flashing bus on the otherside of the road ordering you to stop on the highway is extremely dangerous. Even emergency break downs require a hazard triangle to pre warn traffic of a rapid stop approaching. School busses don’t have this for opposing traffic.
    Safer school stop points would be better as well.

    Reply
    • Thanks for sharing your opinion on driver safety and school buses, Leo.

      Children who live in areas served by school buses may have to cross the road after being dropped off, and stopping traffic in both directions is the safest way for them to do so. School children – who may be as young as five or six years old – do not have the experience or knowledge of traffic (and how fast it moves) to gauge when it’s safe to cross a road or highway.

      School buses are equipped with flashing lights on their front and rear, to warn traffic behind them and traffic that’s oncoming, that they need to slow down and stop.

      Whenever drivers are on icy surfaces (or potentially icy surfaces), they need to slow down because stopping will take longer and braking needs to be done gradually. Not all hazards on BC highways are going to be noted with a reflective triangle and drivers should always be aware of the need to slow or stop for any reason (expected or unexpected) – whether it’s wildlife, children or rockfall on the road.

      Reply
  6. Question. 4 lanes, 2 oncoming, 2 behind bus. Curbed divider. Red lights flashing. Both directions are to stop, in all lanes. Correct? In BC.

    Reply
    • Good morning Louise – correct. When you see a school bus with alternating flashing red lights at the top, you must stop whether you are approaching it from the front or the rear. Vehicles in all lanes must stop. After stopping for a school bus, don’t start moving again until the bus moves on or the driver signals that it’s safe by turning off the lights and pulling in the stop sign.
      https://www.icbc.com/driver-licensing/Documents/driver-full.pdf

      Reply
  7. Just wondering if you’re required to stop if the school bus is pulled off the road and does not have the red lights flashing but is loading or unloading?

    Reply
  8. My name is Pierre Ranger and I am Adam Ranger’s oldest brother and the chair of the Let’s Remember Adam STOP FOR THE SCHOOL BUS campaign. I would just like to send a HUGE Thank you to you for posting this and helping spread Adam’s message of school bus safety! If there is anything I can do to help please do not hesitate to ask. Please feel free to contact me at our let’s remember Adam email info@letsrememberadam.org. My family and I can not stress enough the importance of STOPPING for the school buses! Our life’s were flipped up side down and torn about after someone did not stop for the bus lights and we lost Adam. But it’s not just the school bus you need to pay extra attention too its also the kids walking to and from school as well. Our number 1 goal of the Let’s Remember Adam campaign is that all school children everywhere make it to and from school safely! No one should ever have to go through what my family and I went through and continue to go through. Once again Thank you so much for spreading the message!

    Pierre Ranger and the Ranger family!!

    Reply
    • Dear Pierre Ranger and the Ranger Family,

      So sorry for your loss of Adam. I hope that your extended efforts, to prevent the loss of other young lives, are of some consolation.

      Thanks so much for your support for our blog to educate people to stop for stopped school buses. Your campaign around your tragic loss of Adam personalizes the lifelong, devastating impacts of poor driving. It`s our hope that this blog, your Let’s Remember Adam STOP FOR THE SCHOOL BUS campaign, and other awareness activities will influence motorists everywhere to obey the law and drive carefully around children.

      I hugely appreciate your offer of collaboration to keep school children safe. With the start of school next month, it would be great to connect over the next week or two, on ways to capture the attention of motorists. We all want children to return home safely, and motorists to really think about how they are driving when around school buses and other places children might be.

      Reply
    • Dear Pierre Ranger and the Ranger Family,

      So sorry for your loss of Adam. I hope that your extended efforts, to prevent the loss of other young lives, are of some consolation.

      Thanks so much for your support for our blog to educate people to stop for stopped school buses. Your campaign around your tragic loss of Adam personalizes the lifelong, devastating impacts of poor driving. It`s our hope that this blog, your Let’s Remember Adam STOP FOR THE SCHOOL BUS campaign, and other awareness activities will influence motorists everywhere to obey the law and drive carefully around children.

      I hugely appreciate your offer of collaboration to keep school children safe. With the start of school next month, it would be great to connect over the next week or two, on ways to capture the attention of motorists. We all want children to return home safely, and motorists to really think about how they are driving when around school buses and other places children might be.

      Reply