Precious Cargo

Passing a school bus when its lights are flashing is dangerous and illegal.

Island school bus driver asks drivers to think of his special passengers

His friends call him “Mr. Safety" and it’s a handle he wears with pride after decades behind the wheel of dump trucks, taxis and coach tour buses. Now carries his most precious cargo yet – in an Prince Edward Island school bus.

Ben Gendron says driving a school bus is a huge responsibility. And he is asking for all Island drivers’ help to keep his passengers safe as they head back to school this week.

“When I look in my rear view mirror and see all those little heads, those are our sons and daughters, our nieces and cousins, our grandchildren," says Gendron. "People drive too fast, they take chances, follow too close, they don’t pay attention."

More than 19,000 students ride to school on the province’s fleet of more than 300 buses every day.

Excited students sharing summer stories with friends may be easily distracted. And, as Gendron explained, children can be unpredictable.

“When two or three kids are coming you have to keep your eye on them, they could drop something. Kids are kids,” he adds. 

Passing a school bus when its lights are flashing is dangerous and illegal. Drivers should slow down when the amber lights flash and come to a full stop when red lights appear. When approaching a school bus with red lights flashing, drivers must stop at least six metres (20 feet) from the front or rear of the bus, and remain stopped until the flashing red lights stop.

And for those who don’t stop? Besides endangering the lives of students, a driver could be hit with a $5,000 fine and a loss of eight demerit points under the Highway Traffic Act.

Drivers are also reminded to be extra careful when approaching children who are walking to and from school, especially at crosswalks. Parents should talk to their kids about getting on and off the bus safely and looking both ways before crossing the road. Remind them that nobody should move until the bus is fully stopped, the red lights are flashing and the safety arm is fully extended.

Gendron asks Island drivers to pay particularly close attention when driving at around 8:00 am and 3:00 pm when buses are doing their pickups and drop-offs.

 “We have to stop and we have to turn. Give us school bus drivers the space on the roads to work because we work with kids. Stay back and relax.”

For more information for drivers, parents and students, visit School Bus Safety.

General Inquiries

Department of Education and Lifelong Learning
Holman Centre
Suite 101, 250 Water Street
Summerside, PE C1N 1B6

Phone: 902-438-4130
Fax: 902-438-4062