The P.E.I. Home and School Federation is the umbrella organization of local Home and School/Parent Council organizations in 55 English language schools across Prince Edward Island.
The Federation collaborates with and acts as the voice of parents, guardians, and school educators in the education system, and exists to promote the total health and well-being of children and the highest standards of education for each child in the province.
The Federation works in partnership with other organizations which foster this ideal and assists in the development of policies related particularly to quality education for each child. The Federation works primarily by offering support to, and coordination between, Association local members and believes that the participation of parents, guardians, and school staff in the education of our children and youth is vital.
School bus safety was undertaken as a result of a meeting between the Federation and CUPE 1145 – Transportation Group, where concerns were raised about vehicles continuing to pass parked school busses almost daily, thereby, endangering the lives of children/youth as they enter and exit busses. The decision was made to bring key stakeholders together to discuss the issues and actions to prevent potential fatality.
The Federation invited key stakeholders to a meeting to discuss school bus safety. The report is about the results of the School Bus Safety Stakeholders meeting held on September 28, 2021 in Stratford, P.E.I.
On September 28, 2021, a group of concerned stakeholders met to address the crucial need for action surrounding school bus safety on Prince Edward Island. With approximately 300 school buses on Island roadways each day, school bus drivers report that, nearly daily, other drivers pass slowing or stopped school buses while the bus signal lights are flashing. Infractions can occur in all kinds of weather, are most common in the months of September and October, are more likely to happen in cities (Charlottetown, Summerside, Kensington) or along very busy highways (e.g. Highway 2), and the drivers committing the violations cross age, cultural, and gender groups. While the back of each school bus displays clear signage indicating that the penalty for passing a bus with flashing signal lights is 12 demerit points, a 3-month license suspension, and a maximum $5000 fine. However, stakeholders reported that, last year in Summerside, there were 200 reports of school bus passing violations and just 17 convictions. While stakeholders reported that PEI has the highest conviction rate in Canada, the maximum fine of $5000 has never been given; as well, ticketed drivers may be convicted on lesser charges of distracted driving (e.g. cell phone use) rather than the offense of passing a school bus.
The first consensus point among the stakeholders gathered is that school bus passing violations happen without malicious intent - no one leaves their house in the morning with the intent to harm a child. Factors including driver inattention, impairment, speed, and/or lack of awareness of the meaning of bus signals were postulated as reasons for the high number of incidents of vehicles passing school buses when their lights are flashing and the bus is slowing or stopped. The second consensus point among stakeholders is that we need to know what is happening?, why is this happening?, and how do we keep this from happening?, before we are faced with a critical injury or death of a child.
Action Items resulting from the School Bus Safety meeting are organized according to stakeholder-derived Action Areas: Establishing a Task Force; Legislation and Highway Safety; Equipment Needs; Education and Awareness; and “Thinking Outside the Box”.