PROVINCE IMPLEMENTS AMBER-RED SCHOOL BUS WARNING SYSTEM FOR IMPROVED ROAD SAFETY FOR CHILDREN
September 2, 2022
Ontario Drivers Can Expect To See Retrofitted Buses Roll Out in September.
WATERLOO REGION — Out of nearly 2 million students in the province, 800,000 will be using a school bus to get to school and back in September. With new safety regulations in effect, drivers across Ontario can expect to see retrofitted school buses on local roads and highways. The Amber-Red Warning System is the North American standard for increased safety around frequently stopping school buses. The new lights will give drivers an additional warning signal that the bus is approaching a stop and more time to respond accordingly.
Mike Harris, MPP for Kitchener-Conestoga, was joined by members of School Bus Ontario and Regional and Municipal Representatives for a ribbon-cutting marking the return of buses with upgraded lighting systems in time for the 2022/23 school year.
“I know parents and families across Ontario will be glad to see the Amber-Red Warning Light system implemented on our school buses. And drivers will appreciate the extra warning to come to a stop and avoid preventable accidents, injuries or worse,” said Mike Harris. “My kids take the bus too, and any parent wants to ensure their child can enjoy a safe and productive learning environment. That goes for the school buses that get them to and from class every day too.”
Provincial data estimates roughly 17,000 daily incidents involving drivers blowing by stopped school buses across Ontario. A pilot program in Waterloo Region found between 500-700 blow-bys each week.
Ontario is the final jurisdiction in North America to adopt the program, spearheaded by MPP Harris, through Bill 246, An Act to amend the Highway Traffic Act, 2021. Earlier this year, the Government of Ontario provided school bus operators access to more than $4 million in one-time funding to help offset costs for retrofitting Ontario school buses with the Eight Lamp Amber-Red Warning System.
Adopting this upgraded lighting system will make it easier for drivers and other road users to recognize when school buses are slowing and stopping at the roadside, improving road safety for school bus passengers. The Eight Lamp Amber-Red Warning System uses two stages of flashing coloured lamps to signal the slowing (amber coloured lamps) and stopping (red coloured lamps) activities of school buses to surrounding motorists.
“School Bus Ontario is very pleased that MPP Mike Harris has led this initiative to make school buses safer for school children and families,” said Robert Murphy, President of School Bus Ontario. “The new amber-red light system will warn motorists that the bus is about to come to a complete stop and that once it does, and red lights flash, the motorist must stop. We want to thank our drivers and operators for their diligence and service to safely deliver kids to and from school, camp and other activities, and we know this legislation will help them in their important work.”
“With the return of school, we are reminded of the important role we must all play in keeping our children safe,” said Karen Redman, Chair of the Region of Waterloo. “Thank you to MPP Harris and the Government of Ontario for working to make school bus pick-ups and drop-offs safer.”
“Safety of our children is paramount,” said Sandy Shantz, Mayor of Woolwich Township. “Through the retrofit of our school buses with an upgraded lighting systems, drivers are given an early warning that buses are slowing and will be stopping, and further help to protect the lives of thousands of students who ride the bus to school.”
- On May 12, 2021, the Safer School Buses Act (2021) received Royal Assent. It amended the Highway Traffic Act to mandate all school buses manufactured on or after January 1, 2005, to operate an Eight Lamp Amber-Red Warning System in Ontario, effective July 1, 2022.
- An estimated 20,000 vehicles will require retrofitting to operate this system.
- School Bus Ontario is a non-profit association providing advocacy, education and legislative consultation services to the owners of school bus fleets.