McGuinty Government Makes School Buses Safer For Kids

    Mandatory Crossing Arms For All School Buses In Ontario

    QUEEN'S PARK, April 3 /CNW/ - The McGuinty government is making school
buses safer by providing immediate funding to school bus operators to put a
safety-crossing arm on the front bumper of every school bus, Transportation
Minister Donna Cansfield announced today.
    "Protecting the safety of children on Ontario roads is something the
McGuinty government takes very seriously," said Cansfield. "About 800,000
students regularly use school buses every weekday to travel to and from
school, for field trips, special outings and for special travel needs. This is
an important step toward making the school bus, already the safest vehicle on
the road, even safer."
    Crossing arms are wire or plastic devices extending from the front bumper
on the right side of the school bus, ensuring children cross at a safe
distance from the bus. In clear view of the bus driver, children can wait for
the driver's signal that it is safe to cross.
    As of January 1, 2005 our government made it mandatory that new school
buses have crossing arms and today's announcement means that effective January
1, 2008 all remaining school buses in Ontario must also be equipped with the
safety-crossing arm.
    There are approximately 17,000 yellow school buses operating in Ontario,
of which an estimated 6,000 to 8,000 need retrofitting. To assist operators in
making the change the Ontario government has committed $2 million towards the
cost of retrofitting these buses. Without these changes, it would take at
least 10 years until older buses are off the road. The funding will also be
available to school bus operators who added safety-crossing arms to older
buses at their own expense.
    "This latest announcement builds on the ongoing work we have done with
school boards across the province to educate children about safety - whether
it's looking both ways before crossing the street or traveling safely on a
school bus," Education Minister Kathleen Wynne said. "It also serves as an
opportunity to remind all motorists, parents and caregivers about our shared
responsibility to drive with caution near school zones and school buses."
    "This is a clear demonstration that the province is committed to
continually improving school bus safety," added Richard Donaldson, executive
director of the Ontario School Bus Association.
    For more information on school bus safety visit:

    Disponible en français




                              SCHOOL BUS SAFETY

    School Vehicle Collisions - Statistics and Research
    -   Approximately 91 per cent of "front bumper" fatalities occur when the
        bus is not equipped with a safety-crossing arm.
    -   About 70 per cent of deaths involving a school vehicle happen when
        students are embarking or disembarking. Since 1988, 28 student deaths
        have been related to school bus use; 20 of these deaths (71 per cent)
        happened outside the bus and eight deaths occurred inside the bus.
    -   A 2001 Transport Canada survey of 340 Canadian school bus drivers
        shows that one in three saw at least one vehicle illegally pass a
        stopped school bus every day.

    The McGuinty government has taken swift action to improve school bus

    Since September 1, 2005:
    -   Registered owners of vehicles will be charged if their vehicle
        illegally passes a school bus that is stopped with its red lights

    From September 1, 2005, when this charge became effective, to December 1,
2006, there were 261 charges laid and 160 convictions.

    Since January 1, 2005:
    -   All school buses must display decals on the rear of the bus
        indicating a maximum $2,000 fine for a first offence of passing a
        stopped school bus that has its overhead lights flashing
    -   All new school buses must include a safety-crossing arm to prevent
        children from walking into the area at the front of the bus where the
        driver might not see them
    -   Other new safety features for new school buses:
        -  Better lighting
        -  More emergency exit side windows
        -  Improved side rear-view mirrors.

    More than half of the 17,000 yellow school buses currently operating in
Ontario are fitted with safety-crossing arms. The McGuinty government is now
requiring that all school buses in Ontario are equipped with a safety-crossing
arm on the front bumper.

    Disponible en français



For further information:

For further information: Media Contacts: Jamie Rilett, Minister's
Office, (416) 327-9134; Bob Nichols, Communications Branch, (416) 327-1158;
Public Inquiries: (416) 235-4686 (GTA), 1-800-268-4686 toll free,
1-866-471-8929 TTY

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