Thursday, August 25, 2016

Watch out for school buses or face hefty fines

Mel Massini and Sharon Roberts holding awareness campaign posters
T. Lucas photo

Toni Lucas - Pincher Creek First Student busing wants to remind the public that school season is about to begin starting September 1. This means young people walking in town and in the country, going to school, and school bus stops. First Student faced a dilemma in the spring when they realized an alarming number of drivers were passing buses that were in the process of picking up or dropping off children. To raise awareness First student started a 'Reds Flashing = No Passing' campaign. Now they are upping the ante: 'Don't fly past school buses with flashing red lights... because our eagle eyes are on the lookout.' What that means is RCMP Auxiliary Constable Mel Massini will be randomly riding along in school buses to observe and take down license plate numbers.  He stated he is willing and ready to appear in court to testify against those who just don't get it.

Children may have to cross the street to enter or exit a bus and the government has recognized this and taken it seriously. Passing a school bus with the red lights flashing is against the law. It carries a hefty fine: $543 plus 6 demerit points. There is also a $465 fine when passing while the amber lights are flashing for failure to exercise caution.

Working with the Pincher Creek RCMP Detachment Massini has volunteered his time to be the eagle eyes watching and recording when a bus he is travelling on has a flyby. He recognizes the drivers have to be concerned about the bus, driving, and the children. They often do not have the time to write down descriptions of an offending vehicle, driver, or license plate information. First Student Location Manager Sharon Roberts explained, "He is going to randomly ride a bus, any route, any time. Nobody's going to know when, or where." Any charges are to be charged to the registered owner of the vehicle. "We are playing hardball, this year," said Roberts.

Roberts said the most common excuse they hear if they do manage to talk to a driver who has driven past a bus with flashing red lights is, "I didn't see it (The bus or the lights)." According to Roberts there is no specific demographic who is most likely to flyby a bus, it can be anyone behind the steering wheel. Her first concern is with the safety of the children. "In this day and age, people are just in such a hurry."

Other places First Student plans to take their awareness campaign include Tim Hortons and the upcoming Pincher Creek Trade Show.

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