Your caution driving near school buses can save lives

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Recent warm weather will eventually come to an end, bringing snow and days of poor driving conditions. With this in mind, I implore motorists to drive with caution appropriate to the conditions. This is especially important around school buses.

Buses are large, heavy vehicles, built for safety. We, in Palliser, saw just how safe these vehicles can be on Oct. 7 when we had our first snow of the fall.

Highway 542 to Milo was covered with snow and slush. Our school bus was carrying students home from Vulcan when another vehicle tried to pass. The driver lost control, hitting our bus, spinning it 180 degrees and sending it rolling off the highway. It came to a stop on its side.

Thankfully, our bus driver Arvid Thompson had 20 years of experience and training on his side. He was a rock for his young passengers. There was a Good Samaritan who witnessed the collision and immediately offered help. A high school student onboard helped free Arvid from his seatbelt and students evacuated. Another Palliser bus arrived, the driver relaying information and providing shelter. First responders made it to the highway northeast of Vulcan quickly.

I’m grateful to all who were there that day. We are fortunate no one was seriously injured.

It could have been disastrous. More importantly, it could have been prevented.

No driver leaves home with the intention of putting children in harm’s way. It happens because we’re in a rush, we’re distracted or we just don’t realize the potential consequences of our choices.

Buses are slow. Legally, they can travel no faster than 90 km/h on the highway, even in the best of weather. When they stop with their red lights flashing, traffic in both directions must stop.

For drivers in a hurry, this can be annoying.

But think of it another way. Bus speed is limited to reduce risk to children should a collision occur. They use their red lights and stop traffic to prevent a child from being struck.

As motorists, we have to change the way we think of school buses – not as traffic hindrances, but as the safest way to transport precious cargo. The seconds a motorist might save by passing a bus unsafely can carry the unbearable cost of a child’s life.

Winter’s coming. Please do your part to be safe when travelling. Together we can keep our precious cargo safe.

Dr. Garry Andrews is the acting superintendent of Palliser Regional Schools.




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