On average, of the 3000 road fatalities each year in Canada, five are bus passengers. Occasionally, bus crashes result in a number of fatally or seriously injured bus passengers but, more commonly, in a crash involving a bus and a smaller vehicle, the occupants of the smaller vehicle fare poorly.
Transport Canada research consistently shows, on the basis of the number of passengers and kilometres traveled, that school bus travel is one of the safest methods of transportation—16 times safer than traveling in the family car. On average, of the annual five bus passenger fatalities, one relates to a school bus:children riding on the bus, children who are hit by their own school bus or children who are hit by other vehicles while boarding or leaving the bus.
Various levels of government, organizations, and individualsshare responsibility for school bus safety. The federal government through Transport Canada defines safety standards for all new vehicles manufactured in, or imported into Canada. School bus standards—numbering 37—are particularly stringent. Provincial transportation ministries set and enforce rules and regulations for all vehicles including school buses, and for all drivers including school bus drivers.
Both the federal and provincial bodies that set vehicle design and operational safety standards consult with the Canadian Standards Association (CSA), a non-profit, membership-based association that develops standards and codes to enhance public safety. On August 13, 2008 the CSA announced the publication of the new CSA D270 Multi-functional activity buses (MFAB) standard. MFABs are a type of vehicle not classified as a school bus but are still used to transport school-aged passengers to sporting events or other such educational or childcare facilities and therefore require similar standards for safety and construction.
Provincial ministries of education provide funding to school boards for student transportation. School boards develop transportation policies, including safety provisions and either contract or operate school bus services. In addition, school board transportation officials, school bus operators, school bus drivers, school principals, parents, students, motorists, the police, community groups and interested parties such as provincially owned insurance companies all contribute to setting and achieving high standards for school bus safety
Sooner or later, to a special event or on a school trip, all students, urban or rural will probably ride a school bus. And this means that all motorists will find themselves from time to time, (but more commonly when schools are back in session), sharing the road with these large, bright yellow, highly visible vehicles. Motorists need to remember that flashing lights on a school bus indicate that it is stopped or stopping to take on or let off children. In addition to these flashing lights, some school buses also signal with a swing-out stop sign. As a driver, when you approach or follow a school bus with flashing lights, you must stop. If the roadway is multi-lane, the vehicles in all the lanes must stop. When the school bus driver signals it’s safe to do so by turning off the lights and pulling in the stop sign,…then you may start up again.