Parents Concerned About School Bus Safety
Prince George, B.C. – Some drivers just don’t get it when it comes to safety around school buses.
That was the message from Gillian Burnett, chair of the Nukko lake Elementary School Parent Advisory Council (PAC), at this week’s monthly Prince George School Board meeting.
She’s calling on area stakeholders to help ensure little ones stay safe.
“Basically, we keep having parents coming forward with complaints about people failing to stop for the school bus when its red lights are flashing and it stops to let students disembark or board the bus,” said Burnett.
“We’d like the district to explore the possibility of partnering with Diversified Transportation, the RCMP, and ICBC to consider an awareness campaign that reaches the entire district.”
She said you’d be surprised how unfamiliar some drivers are regarding the rules of the road.
“There’s a difference between disobeying the law and being oblivious to it and there are a lot of drivers that when we’re speaking to them they tell us they didn’t realize that they needed to stop in both directions.”
Burnett said parents have noticed a big improvement in the Nukko Lake area since the local PAC installed some safety signs at their own expense last year but added it hasn’t been fool proof.
“We still have probably at least one close call a month. They used to be weekly.”
The situation is even worse in the Southridge area in College Heights where there were around 200 incidents last year.
It was so bad that Luis Gonzalez, operations manager with Diversified Transportation, told 250News last month he fears for the worst.
“It’s not just automobiles. Sometimes we’ve even had semi-trucks passing and this is something that the community should be aware of and work on as a community.”
One person who sympathizes with Burnett’s call for action is Prince George School Board chair Tony Cable.
“Well I think she has some valid concerns and the school district and school board would support her 100%,” he said. “Anything we can do, anything the RCMP can do, anything the community can do to make bus safety better, I’m all for it.”
He said one of the problems these days is the fact most kids don’t walk or ride their bikes to schools like they used to 20-25 years ago and instead are largely driven to school.
“So when you start having that number of vehicles going in and out of the parking lots and then you have schools that have busing – that is a lot of traffic on the roads, in the parking lot, and a lot of kids going back and forth,” said Cable.
“I know every school in the district – the school staff and the principals are working so hard to make sure those parking lots are safe.”
Burnett just hopes awareness is raised further before a child is hit by a car and injured or worse.
“That’s my worst fear. I don’t think we’ll get there. I’m really crossing my fingers and hoping that we can raise awareness about this before we’re there.”