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Motorists ignoring school bus stop signs a growing problem in Thunder Bay

THUNDER BAY, Ont. – More than 130 drivers have reportedly failed to stop for the flashing lights and stop signs of school buses in just the first half of October.

It’s a problem that appears to be getting worse.

“There seems to be more distracted drivers on the road,” said Barb Siegers, bus driver and location safety manager for First Student Canada. “People just aren’t paying attention.

The school bus stop sign violation statistic does not include infraction reported in the third week of October, which is ironically National School Bus Safety Week.

The Thunder Bay Police Service has partnered with school bus companies Iron Range and First Student Canada this week to help spread safety awareness, in particular the need for motorists to stop when a bus’s lights are flashing.

“If we’re paying attention to what we’re doing, there’s no reason we shouldn’t see a yellow school bus, its flashing lights,” said Thunder Bay Police Service Traffic Unit Cst. Jodi Vondrasek.

“If we’re paying attention, then there is no reason for motorists not to stop for these school buses.”

Cst. Vondrasek added that motorists should anticipate they may need to stop the moment they see a school bus.

The violation comes with a hefty price tag — $490. In addition to that fine, motorists will face six demerit points.

The registered owner of a vehicle caught violating a school bus stop sign, even if they were not the driver at the time, can still be subject to the $490. In Ontario, school bus drivers and other witnesses can report vehicles that have illegally passed a school bus.

In that scenario, the owner of the vehicle may receive a fine, but not the demerit points.

Motorist must stop for a school bus when its lights are flashing and has come to a complete stop. Motorists passing a school bus at this point, even if the stop sign is not yet extended, are in violation.

“Children’s lives are at stake,” Siegers said.

“We want to deliver our kids home every day safe and we can’t if people aren’t stopping for school buses.”


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