With a rise in the number of incidents of vehicles hitting school buses, vehicles passing buses when the red flashing lights are on, and other close calls, School District No. 83 has launched a School Bus Safety Campaign, reported Transportation Manager Andrea Kathrein to the School District No. 83 (North Okanagan-Shuswap) Board of Education at its meeting on Tuesday.
Kathrein reported that in just 19 school days in January a total of 32 red light runners were reported (three in the Armstrong area; seven in Enderby; one in North Shuswap, eight in Salmon Arm; two in Silver Creek; and 11 in the Tappen/Blind Bay/White Lake area).
To help raise awareness SD83 will be running two weeks of radio commercials expressing the importance of stopping for a school bus with red lights activated (We Stop – You Stop), asking drivers not to rush the bus, and to ensure they are not driving distracted around a school bus!
There will also be coffee cup sleeves at participating restaurants with “to go” mugs at 19 locations throughout the district.
Because of concerns with liability, several companies (including Tim Hortons, Starbucks and A&W) are not able to support the district with the coffee sleeves, however, they have asked for posters to display at their locations and discussions are continuing on how they might support the campaign in October during School Bus Safety Week.
She also added that “red light runner” cameras will become normal practice on SD83 school buses. “In September 2018, three of our new buses came equipped with the red light runner cameras, and we are looking into adding them to another dozen of our newer buses.”
Local RCMP detachments are also supporting the district in this campaign in various ways including riding along on the bus.
As always, SD83 will continue to support students and bus drivers through training on acceptable and safe school bus safety procedures and protocol.
Another campaign is planned for October 2019 during School Bus Safety Week. Kathrein thanked the Board and Superintendent Peter Jory for the support for the awareness campaign. She also thanked the local media for helping spread this important message.