Ontario mandates a new amber warning system for school buses

It’s the first week of summer vacation for most elementary and high school students across the province, meaning school buses will be parked for most of the next two months.

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But when they get back on the road in September, they will be equipped with a new warning system with eight amber lights.

READ MORE: Girl hospitalized with life-threatening injuries after NB school bus incident

The aim is to increase passenger safety and reduce the number of drivers who do not stop for school buses.

“Yellow lights are used elsewhere (in Canada and the US) and have been found to help attract the attention of other drivers near a bus,” said Joel Sloggett, CAO of Student Transportation Services of Central Ontario ( STSCO).

“So when the lights go out, you know the bus will stop in the near future.”

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Police will treat the new amber lighting system as they treated the traditional lighting system – if you operate it you will be charged. It’s zero tolerance.

“It’s a step in the right direction. When drivers are near school buses, they should be where they can stop at any time. Drivers need to be aware of this,” said Peterborough County OPP Police Officer Joe Ayotte.

“It’s a $490 fine and six demerits if a driver drives a school bus with red lights and a stop sign.”

Sloggett tells Global News Peterborough he expects bus companies under the STSCO umbrella to complete the retrofit by mid-August, just in time for the start of the new school year.

READ MORE: School bus and pickup truck collide east of Peterborough

The updated lighting requirements came into effect on July 1 and required all buses manufactured from January 2005 to convert to the new system.

Buses will be required to put revised signage on the back of vehicles saying “Do not overtake when red lights are flashing”.

“Safety is the most important thing and if it helps, we’re all for it,” Sloggett added.

“Slow down and get ready to stop. Don’t miss it because the few seconds you save could result in a serious accident.”

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To help ensure the successful introduction of this new system, bus companies are being given a grace period until September 1st by the Department for Transport.

Operators and companies can apply for government subsidies for retrofitting.

Application deadline is July 31st.

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

https://globalnews.ca/news/8968410/ontario-school-buses-amber-red-lights/ Ontario mandates a new amber warning system for school buses

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