Regulations on school bus lights to stay the same

More awareness is needed in terms of school bus flashing lights and what motorists are to do when passing them.

A report regarding the use of school bus flashing lights in the City was presented at council following a Notice of Motion submitted Oct. 17.

Councillor Cindy Jefferies who noted the use of school bus flashing lights and stop arms was prohibited within City limits submitted the original Notice of Motion.

Engineering Services Manager Frank Colosimo presented the report for council’s approval.

“We did look at the possibility of using bus lights in urban areas but the finding is that we don’t support amending the current bylaw to allow the lights,” said Colosimo.

Safety of the pedestrians was cited as the number one reason for not changing the bylaw. Colosimo said that a large portion of consideration was based on the confusion that would arise when pedestrians and motorists alike are unsure how to react when there are flashing lights on a multi-lane roadway.

“We would be permitting mid-block crossing and taking away the responsibility of the pedestrians and their own need for safety and training students how to get to school safely. We don’t want them relying on buses that have flashing arms and lights.”

Colosimo stated the rule for bus drivers to determine whether lights are warranted is based on whether or not there is a curb and gutter system on the roadway. If there is, lights are not allowed.

Councillor Tara Veer said that the confusion surrounding how to approach a stopped school bus without flashing lights might need to be addressed.

“We feel there is adequate knowledge out there but if there is some additional education to be done then we would consider that,” said Colosimo.

A motion was put forward that based on the report council would agree to not revise the bylaw.

Jefferies thanked Colosimo for the work done to provide the report and said it helped clarify why the bylaw exists.

“I am not prepared to change the bylaw because there is a good reason for why it is the way it is. Some communication and awareness is necessary maybe including school newsletters or signage on the buses,” said Jefferies.

Jefferies pointed out that rural schools do a good job of explaining when lights are flashing drivers have to stop and maybe the same kind of education could take place in the City to educate drivers about when lights are not flashing.

“There is some room for awareness in the City, some way of making a point that we do need to be more aware around school buses.”

The motion was moved by Councillor Lynne Mulder and seconded by Jefferies. Council voted unanimously not to change the bylaw with Mayor Morris Flewwelling and Councillor Dianne Wyntjes absent.