Wolf Creek Public Schools is reminding motorists to hit the brakes when approaching school buses with flashing red lights and those stop signs that pop out from the side of buses.
Rod Mercer, assistant manager of transportation services, said bus drivers have reported twice as many infractions since the beginning of September compared to the entire first half of the last school year.
“This year we’ve seen a marked increase. At this point, we have received about 20 reports from our drivers. We have reviewed video of the occurrences and have passed about 75 per cent of those onto authorities,” Mercer said.
“It doesn’t take long for these reports to start coming in. We actually had one happen on the first day of school.”
He said according to what he heard at a recent conference, divisions around the province are experiencing traffic issues around school buses and motorists illegally passing buses.
“We’re all talking the same language and all hoping for better results and putting measures in place.”
Since September, Wolf Creek has passed on about 15 videos to RCMP, Lacombe Police or municipal enforcement agencies. It takes about five weeks for charges to be laid and so far, about four tickets have been issued.
The fine for passing a school bus with red lights and its stop sign triggered is $567, and six demerit points.
Mercer said most infractions occur in areas with higher traffic volume– where more school buses travel and stop, including some streets in both Blackfalds and Lacombe.
“We did not have one report all of last year for the town of Ponoka, but we have two already this year.”
He said the division recently educated bus drivers on how to better identify infractions along with providing more support when they file reports. Driver awareness and feeling more confident filling out reports is contributing to the increase in reported infractions.
He said while bus drivers can use their red lights and stop signs anytime, they do make an effort to allow traffic to subside and not catch motorists who are already in the process of passing a school bus. But some drivers just don’t obey the rules.
“If the driver is distracted or doesn’t believe in stopping for school buses, they’re going to do whatever they’re going to do.”
About 45 per cent of students with Wolf Creek Public Schools ride school buses.
Mercer said no bus students have been injured in traffic since September, but last year there were a couple of close calls.