The Alberta government is moving ahead with a 10-point action plan for improving school bus safety across the province. The plan will make flashing amber lights and strobe lights mandatory, require retrofitting buses with reflective tape and develop consistent hiring criteria for drivers.
The action plan follows the recommendations in Ensuring the Safety of our Children: A Report on School Bus Safety in Alberta, an overview of all aspects of school bus safety including buses, drivers and carriers/school bus companies. The report looked at factors involved in school bus collisions over a five-year period and recommended 10 strategies to further enhance the safety of school bus transportation. Cost of implementing the plan will be $7.5 million over two years.
“School bus safety is part of the government’s overall commitment to traffic safety,” said Luke Ouellette, Minister of Transportation. “School buses are already among the safest vehicles on our roads and we want to keep them that way. By taking action on these recommendations, government is making improvements to protect our children and increase school bus safety in Alberta.”
The school bus safety report focuses on two main areas – school bus visibility and training for bus drivers. The report also emphasizes the outstanding safety record of school buses and reminds motorists to obey traffic laws when school buses are stopped and the red lights are flashing. Research included in the report shows almost six out of every 10 school bus collisions are caused by other drivers.
“Alberta students and parents deserve the safest school transportation system possible,” said Minister of Education Dave Hancock. “Our government continues to seek and support better ways to keep students safe at school and as they travel to and from school.”
The report does not recommend seat belts on all school buses. It noted that, in accordance with federal safety standards, no Canadian province requires seat belts on all school buses. Previous studies have shown that, due to the design of school buses, seat belts would not necessarily increase safety and, in some circumstances, could put students at greater risk of injury.