Safety is the #1 priority of PSD Transportation Services. Everything we do is to ensure that student riders have a safe and reliable means of transportation to and from school. To aid in this endeavour, we have a number of policies, procedures and safety features in place on our buses, and we review important safety information with our riders on a regular basis - most notably during School Bus Safety Week each October.
All of these policies, procedures and safety features are outlined in detail in the PSD School Bus Operations Handbook.
School Bus Safety Measures
The following are just a few of the safety measures in place on every Parkland School Division school bus.
The flashing lights on school buses clearly indicate when the student loading zones are (or will be) in use. When picking up or dropping off students, the bus operator will turn on the amber flashing lights and begin to slow down, signalling other drivers nearby to follow suit and be ready to stop. When the bus stops, red lights will flash, and a flashing stop sign will extend from the left side of the bus. This is the cue for all traffic approaching the school bus from the front or rear to stop as well, so students may enter or exit the bus safely, even when crossing in front of the bus to or from the other side of the street.
Despite these self-evident safety features and the best efforts of bus operators and local law enforcement, other drivers still pass through school bus loading zones at an alarming frequency. Passing a school bus when its red loading lights are flashing is an illegal act that endangers the lives of bus students, and this carelessness can land a driver a $543.00 fine and six demerits on their license. Fortunately, PSD Transportation has implemented new safety measures to help mitigate this ongoing issue.
Internal & External Cameras
While internal security cameras have been used to monitor student behaviour on PSD buses for many years now, the decision was made in the 2021-2022 school year to install external video cameras as well, as these devices are able to capture footage of vehicles illegally passing through the loading zone used by students when entering and exiting the bus.
Video footage of such incidents can be used in conjunction with the bus operator’s report as evidence for law enforcement agencies when seeking possible prosecution in court. By zooming in on the video footage, we are also able to capture an accurate photo of the offending vehicle, including its license plate number, which can then be shared with authorities.
The video below illustrates how the internal and external cameras are able to capture what’s happening both in and around a school bus at any given time.
School bus operators review evacuation procedures with their riders every year to ensure that everyone knows what to do in the event of an emergency. In typical school years, this involves holding a full evacuation drill once every fall and spring where students physically rehearse all steps involved, exiting the bus in an orderly fashion via the emergency exit(s).
We regret not being able to practice these measures in full for the last two school years due to COVID restrictions. However, bus operators still verbally review evacuation procedures with their riders to keep these important steps fresh in their minds.
School Bus Safety is Everyone’s Responsibility
It is important to remember that school bus safety is a shared responsibility between students, staff, parents/guardians, and community members. It is vital for everyone to do their part in keeping bus riders safe on their journeys to and from school, including those who do not have children riding a school bus. When you see a school bus enroute, please take special care and watch out for children nearby, who may or may not be fully aware of their surroundings, including the dangers posed to them by other vehicles.
Students, parents/guardians and bus operators all have their own responsibilities when it comes to bus safety, as outlined below.
Responsibilities of the Student
To ensure their safety, students are expected to follow the rules outlined in the Rules of Conduct. These rules will be enforced by the bus operator, and we request that parent(s) and/or guardian(s) review the rules of conduct with their student(s).
- Respect and obey the bus operator at all times.
- Be seated promptly and safely in your assigned seat for the duration of the ride.
- Be at the designated bus stop five minutes prior to the school bus arrival. The times indicated by the bus operator are departure times, not arrival times. The bus cannot wait for you.
- Maintain respect for public and private property while waiting at the school bus stop. Line up properly as the bus is coming to a stop.
- Go promptly to your school bus after school dismissal. School buses shall wait for ten minutes after dismissal for loading. Students who are consistently late and hold up the school bus shall be reported to the principal.
- Follow rules of classroom conduct, with the allowance of ordinary quiet conversation.
- Take responsibility for your personal property (books, backpacks, electronic devices, etc.).
- Do not bring animals on the school bus. Only certified and registered guide animals are permitted on the school bus.
- Cross in front of the bus only when it is safe to do so and under the guidance of the bus operator. Only cross in front of the bus upon exiting if you live on the opposite side of the road.
- Dress adequately for current and anticipated weather conditions.
- Exit the bus only at your designated stop. A student may be allowed to be dropped off at a different stop provided:
- They are a registered rider;
- The Parents and/or guardians have notified Transportation Services of their consent.
- Treat the bus with respect and refrain from engaging in the following activities while riding the school bus. Engaging in these activities may result in disciplinary actions. The degree of seriousness of the offences listed below may warrant immediate suspension and referral to Police Services.
- Endangering safety
- Failing to follow the bus operator’s instructions
- Possessing, using or carrying potentially dangerous items (guns, knives, etc.)
- Displaying disruptive behaviours (yell, scream, bully, push, spit, fight, hit, profane gesture or language)
- Consuming any food or beverages while on board (unless medically required)
- Having tobacco, lighters, e-cigarettes or other smoking items
- Possessing or using controlled substances (alcohol, drugs, etc.)
- Using any device, including cell phones, to record video while riding the bus
- Playing any electronic devices without earphones and/or earbuds
- Extending any part of the body out of the windows
- Throwing objects on the bus and/or out the window
- Engaging in unnecessary distracting conversation with the bus operator
Responsibilities of the Parent/Guardian
- Ensure that your student(s) are dressed properly for current or anticipated weather conditions. The temperatures on a school bus can drop dramatically in the event of mechanical problems.
- Help keep students safe before they board the bus in the morning and after they disembark in the afternoon. It is recommended that a parent or caregiver drop students off and supervise at the bus stop in the morning, and be at the stop to take custody of your student(s) after they are dropped off in the afternoon. Daycare providers are required to meet students in their care at the bus stop.
- Contact Transportation Services if your student will not be riding the bus in the afternoon, as the bus operator is otherwise held responsible for taking home every student he/she picks up in the morning. Drivers are not permitted to use a cell phone during their bus route, and will not be able to accept text messages or phone calls during this time.
- Collaborate with your principal and bus operator in order to correct any problems your student may be causing on the bus.
- Notify Transportation Services when you no longer require bus service, or when a change in service is needed.
- Review the regulations and rules of conduct with your student(s) to ensure they understand safety on the bus.
Please note: Any negotiations between the parent(s) and/or guardian(s) and the bus operator, requesting pick-up or drop off at any location other than the designated stop as assigned by PSD Transportation Services, is strictly prohibited.
Responsibilities of the Bus Operator
- Post “Code of Conduct” posters at the front and back of the bus.
- Provide each student riding a school bus with a copy of the Daily Reminders at the beginning of the year.
- Assist any student who may be having problems getting on and off the bus.
- Never enter private property, except for Special Needs Transportation or by way of written agreement. Approval is needed if a student becomes physically handicapped on a regular route, or a relevant safety concern arises.
- Check to ensure that no students are at the stop or running towards the stop before departing the bus stop. Be aware that on regular routes, when buses are on schedule, they will not wait for late students at the designated stop.
- Check the bus after completion of the route or field trip for any students, damage and/or lost articles.
- Only pick up or drop off students at designated stops as assigned by PSD Transportation Services. Any negotiations between the parent(s) and/or guardian(s) and the bus operator requesting pick-up or drop-off at any location other than the designated stop as assigned by PSD Transportation Services is strictly prohibited.
- Refrain from using a cell phone. Bus drivers are not permitted to use their cell phone during their bus route - even when stopped. An exception will only be made for emergencies when dispatch cannot be reached.
For more information contact:
Stony Plain, AB T7Z 2A8