Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Reds flashing = no passing: fly-bys a concern for students and drivers

Bus driver Laurel Holt and RCMP Sgt. Mark Harrison with William and Zachary Baker

  • Town of Pincher Creek proclaims April to be Bus Safety Month
Josh Davis

April is Bus Safety Month in the Town of Pincher Creek. On Wednesday March 30 Sheryl Baker and her boys Twins in grade 2 - 7 years old. A delegation consisting of Sharon Roberts, Sheryl Baker and Phil McGale appeared before Pincher Creek Town Council Monday, March 29 to discuss bus safety and an upcoming social media blitz. The delegation was asked if signage would improve the situation. Mayor Anderberg said, "This is a high priority." Later the same meeting of the council unanimously voted to proclaim April to be School Bus Awareness and Safety Month in Pincher Creek. There will be a social media blitz to accompany the promotional/educational campaign.

William and Zachary Baker just want to get to school and back safely

Six fly-bys have happened this school year. Three of them have happened within Pincher Creek, at the stop heading west on Thistle Crescent.* The other three have been in rural areas. According to bus driver Laurel Holt the worst of them happen in the spring, due to unattached holiday trailers in the narrow streets from April to October. Holt also said that within town the drivers are usually heading West, coming at the bus, and that they have made direct eye contact with her.
*Corrected for accuracy.

Student Transportation Association of Alberta poster
On Wednesday, March 30 Sheryl Baker and her twin boys William and Zachary Baker showed the press the site where the flybys have happened, and showed what the school bus looks like with its lights on. The twins are seven years old, and are in grade two. They were involved in all three of the fly-bys which happened within town.

"It scares me, and it frustrates me," said Sheryl Baker. "It just takes a few seconds to stop. If it hadn't been for Laurel and her due diligence, that situation could have turned out very differently. They have to start taking responsibility. They have to slow down, and pay attention. No more excuses. Its a giant yellow school bus and there's no reason you can't see it. One of the boys said to me 'mummy, if you're driving a vehicle, aren't you supposed to be careful?' And I didn't know what to say. Why should it all be on a couple seven-year-olds to be paying attention and watching for reckless drivers?"

"It seems the most common response we get is 'oh, I didn't see it,'" said Sharon Roberts. "How you can miss a fourty foot long humongous yellow thing with all these lights flashing, and a stop sign at eye level, is beyond me."

There are a total of four bus stops in town, and three up in the North Hill area. At that one bus stop  ten kids get picked up, and five have to cross the street. The students who utilize the service are all taught bus safety, and their rapport with the drivers has been enough to keep them safe thus far. The bus drivers try not to pick up and drop off student on highways, but can't always.

Passing a school bus with the red lights flashing is against the law. It carries a hefty fine: $544 plus 6 demerit points. There is also a $465 when passing while the amber lights are flashing for failure to exercise caution.

There will be a table publicizing the issue at the Volunteer Luncheon on April 15. Sharon Roberts also plans to attend the MD's Spring Open House on April 8.

Related link: Student Transportation Association of Alberta

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