Vernon bus driver Deborah Benson shares some safety tips at the Village Green Centre during Operation Safe Stop Friday.

Vernon bus driver Deborah Benson shares some safety tips at the Village Green Centre during Operation Safe Stop Friday.

Drivers urged to be safe with school buses

There is a problem with motorists who illegally pass stopped school buses

More than 3,800 children ride the iconic yellow school bus to and from school each day in the Vernon School District.

And the district’s transportation department wants to ensure that this is not just an efficient means of transportation, but the safest.

To help share the message of safety, the district is promoting the Operation Safe Stop initiative, which addresses the problem of motorists who illegally pass stopped school buses as children are loading and unloading.

An initiative of the Association of School Transportation Services of B.C., Safe Stop hopes to educate the motoring public that passing a school bus with its red lights flashing is both illegal and dangerous.

“The transportation department urges you to make a safe stop at every stop,” said Robyn Stephenson,Vernon School District manager of transportation services.

“Our goal is to educate the motoring public about the importance of stopping for the flashing red lights of a school bus — please help to keep our kids safe.”

On Friday, the district took part in a one-day project to promote Operation Safe Stop, with bus drivers stationed at locations in Vernon, Westside Road, Lumby and Cherryville.

“Drivers will be on location raising awareness about red lights flashing,” said Stephenson.

Each day, 29 school buses transport students throughout the district, from Vernon to Cherryville. Every day, buses travel almost 690,000 kilometres transporting kids to and from school as well as more than 1,700 field trips every year.

Stephenson said with more vehicles on the road, more close calls or near misses are happening every day.

Every day, school bus drivers report seeing other motorists ignore and drive past their stop arm and flashing red lights

Yellow lights mean the bus is going to stop. Red lights mean students are getting on or off the bus, and drivers must come to a complete stop.