Q & A about school bus safety with school bus driver Pat Ellsworth

School bus driver Pat Ellsworth

Pat Ellsworth is a bus driver for St. Louis Elementary School and M.E. Callaghan Intermediate School in Prince Edward Island. Oct. 16-20 is School Bus Safety Week, and he has some advice for students, parents and the public about keeping everyone safe around school buses. 

What advice would you give to students regarding school bus safety? 

  • To start, students should try to be out at their bus stop a few minutes early. 
  • When the bus pulls up, they should make eye contact with the bus driver before crossing the road and even after the bus driver waves them across, they should make sure to look both ways. 
  • If something falls under the bus, students should let the bus driver know. They should never go under the bus for any reason.  

There’s a lot for bus drivers to think about while we’re driving a bus. We’re going through our stops, trying to stay on schedule, watching the drivers around us, following the rules of the road, and looking out for pedestrians. 

If kids are aware of what they can do to be safe around buses, it helps make our job a little easier. 

What can parents do to be safe around school buses? 

  • When parents pick their kids up from school, they need to respect the bus zones. They should never drive in between buses or park in the school bus zone. 
  • Buses usually have an assigned spot, so even if it looks like there might be space to park, it’s more likely that a bus just hasn’t arrived yet and will need that space. 
  • If someone else is picking up your child from school, be sure to let them know where they should park while they are waiting for the child. If you’re ever unsure, call the school to find out. 
  • Parents can also make sure that their kids are aware of how to behave around school buses and that their kids are waiting a safe distance from the road. 

What advice would you give to Island drivers about how to stay safe around school buses? 

  • I think the biggest thing for people to do is to slow down. You know that kids will be out waiting for their buses in the morning, so it’s important to stay alert. 
  • When you see amber lights flashing, slow down and prepare to stop. When you see red lights flashing, STOP at least 6m from the front or rear of the bus and wait until the lights are off to begin moving. 
  • Be patient.

What do you enjoy most about driving a school bus? 

  • It’s an important job and very rewarding. 
  • For me, the best part is getting to know the kids. They are almost always in good spirits, even first thing in the morning, and some of the younger ones who sit near the front will tell you about their day at school on the way home, which is always good for a laugh. 

Is there anything else you’d like to share? 

  • The Public Schools Branch is always looking for bus drivers. I really enjoy the job and like the flexibility that it gives me between the morning and afternoon runs. If you’re interested, visit: Public School Branch Transportation Positions.

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Phone: 902-438-4130
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