The B.C. government is preparing to increase penalties for drivers who pass school buses while children get on and off. “We’ve had 14 children injured, thankfully none killed, in the last five years,” said Transportation Minister Todd Stone. “There are still far too many motorists who are not getting the message of just how important it is to slow down in school zones and certainly not pass a school bus when the lights are flashing.”
Queen Charlotte RCMP’s Sgt. Scott Hromadnik says he’s not at all opposed to a penalty hike, as child safety is a top priority, but adds such offences are rare on Haida Gwaii.
“I do my patrols every morning as do my members and I have watched many school busses stop and load/unload kids,” he said. “Note that no vehicle, in the three years I have been doing this, have went through the lights.
“Overall the motorists on the island are very good other than a bit of speed here and there so I don’t feel an increase in fines for the community residents will really be an issue on island.”
According to the province school districts and local governments have been calling for these increased penalties. Across the province, police have issued 1,100 tickets for failing to stop for a school bus for the past five years, with 14 injuries during that time.
The current B.C. penalty is $167 fine and three demerit points, the same as disobeying a school crossing guard.
In Ontario, a first offence of passing a school bus results in a fine of $400 to $2,000 and six demerit points, and a second within five years can result in a fine of up to $4,000 and up to six months in jail.
New Brunswick has a $1,000 fine and loss of driver’s licence for every school bus offence.
-with files from Tom Fletcher