Wolf Creek Public Schools (WCPS) is hoping that motorists throughout its communities will heed the message to not pass school buses when the red lights are flashing.
The issue was part of the focus of a WCPS bus driver orientation session before the start of the school year. Each year bus drivers in Wolf Creek come together over two days to refresh on procedures, learn of any operational changes and prepare for the upcoming school year. It’s part of the Transportation department's commitment to keep its highly trained drivers up to date on information and on training.
Joe Croken, senior peace officer, Blackfalds Municipal Enforcement spoke to bus drivers on the importance of reporting those who pass a school bus while the bus red lights are flashing.
“What are you carrying? The future,” said Croken. “So it’s very important that we protect the future.”
Croken said often buses have video that is provided to police or peace officers, but a video isn’t necessary. The driver can record information related to the vehicle and driver that passes the bus and provide that information to police for the investigation to begin.
The financial penalty for passing a school bus that has its red lights and stop signs engaged is $567 and the loss of six driving demerits. Motorists must stop 20 meters from the bus, on either side of the bus (either behind the bus or in the oncoming lane).
“Our school division and our drivers take the safety of our students seriously, and getting the message out in our community is important,” said Betty Clark, WCPS transportation manager. “Our drivers are aware of this important issue, they see it every year. But to have Mr. Croken in and reminding them of the avenues to help report incidents is important.
“Ideally, we hope we don’t have to file any reports, but rather that we begin to change minds and behaviors to make going to school and coming home as safe as possible for students.”
Sheriffs annual inspection campaign
Wolf Creek bus drivers also received information regarding the Mandatory Alcohol Screening (MAS) Initiative by the Alberta Sheriffs Branch.
As part of the Sheriffs annual inspection campaign, Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) trained Sheriff’s will be conducting Mandatory Alcohol Screening on school bus drivers, as well as on all commercial vehicle drivers.
“For parents this may mean you see a school bus pulled to the side of the road to comply with this inspection. If this were to happen, typically it would occur after students have been dropped off at school and the bus is off school grounds, but WCPS has been notified that at times inspections could be conducted on school property,” said Clark. “It simply means our drivers are complying with the MAS Initiative and Inspection Campaign and should not be seen as a cause for concern.”
She added Wolf Creek drivers are well trained, dedicated members of the Division and safely transporting students to and from school is taken with the utmost care and seriousness by drivers and the entire Division.
Irene Donaldson, WCPS director of Inclusive Learning Services presented to bus drivers regarding an initiative called Supporting Individuals through Valued Attachments (SIVA). SIVA was initially developed for school teachers as a support program to assist and support classroom management strategies.
“We are working with Education Services on an initiative to tailor the training for our WCPS bus drivers,” said Clark. “Students start the day and end the day with bus drivers. The goal of SIVA is to align our training with schools so that we can ensure students have consistency in creating positive social experiences.”