In 2018, three women from Pasco County, Florida, were fed up with what they saw day after day. A school bus, with lights flashing and signs instructing drivers not to pass, was pulling over to pick up children by the side of the road. And then, as if they had seen nothing, drivers flew by the bus at speeds that would instantly kill a child on impact.
Highway Patrol used the images they captured to ticket drivers disregarding the law, but even bigger was the online response. Over 7 million people viewed the videos and posted comments of encouragement and gratitude for the moms and outrage for the reckless drivers.
The problem remains that, as one of the moms, Monica Douglas, told WFLA in Tampa Bay, for parents whose kids need to catch these buses to get to school, “a $275 ticket won’t bring their child back their life.”
9am….. on US Highway 19 in front of Gulf View Square Mall… come on you all me to stop for these children to get on their bus or get off it takes just a few seconds out of your busy ass day to make sure everyone around you is safe pay attention
Posted by Monica Douglas on Friday, October 12, 2018
While the women’s efforts definitely made a difference online, one province in Canada has decided that a slap on the wrist just isn’t enough for drivers who endanger children’s lives because of their negligence.
Prince Edward Island is a beautiful province surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean and is most famous for being the setting of Anne of Green Gables. But this friendly rural province won’t put up with people who won’t stop for school buses.
After several near misses and complaints from the bus driver’s union, the provincial government knew they needed to act. For bus drivers who have to make sure that up to 50 children get off their bus safely, having to worry about cars flying by is their nightmare. As Jason McKinnon of the bus driver’s union told CBC News: “It’s a scary feeling. I’ve had two instances in my eight years of driving where children have been near killed and it’s just that that plays through your mind all the time.”
After meeting with the bus drivers and parents, Education and Justice Minister Jordan Brown reminded drivers how easily they might take a child’s life simply by not paying attention while at the wheel. “Do we remember that when those red lights are on little kids are going to be coming around the corner of that bus into traffic?” the minister said to CBC News.
In October 2018, a near accident terrified PEI mom Jordan Linstedt, as CBC News reported. A driver raced by the school bus that her daughter had to cross the Trans-Canada Highway to get to. “She just didn’t slow down at all. I guess she must’ve looked up and saw Koral [Linstedt’s daughter] last second. She swerved around her, and just barely missed her.”
In response to incidents like the one that nearly took Linstedt’s daughter away from her, the provincial government decided enough was enough. In December 2018, the island’s Transportation Ministry announced that drivers would automatically lose their license for three months, in addition to a $5,000 fine if caught passing a bus.
As Transportation Minister Paula Biggar told CBC News, “This means drivers who ignore this law are not allowed on Island roads.” This radical action has been echoed in other Canadian provinces where high fines like PEI’s get the message through to drivers that going around stopped buses isn’t allowed anymore.
Let’s hope that this strong action on behalf of child safety makes it down from our neighbor to the north!