Bus Safety

School Bus Safety Facts

  • Each school day in Ontario, approximately 800,000 students are transported in 18,000 school vehicles traveling nearly 2 million kilometres.
  • There are approximately 700 companies operating school vehicles in Ontario.
  • Ontario has approximately 54,000 school bus driver licence holders.
  • School vehicle injuries represent less than one percent of total road injuries to youth in Ontario.
  • School vehicle fatalities represent less than one-half of one percent of total road fatalities affecting youth in Ontario.
  • When a school bus fatality does occur, it is most likely to happen outside the school bus when students are entering or exiting the bus.

Ontario’s School Bus Stopping Law 
Whether on a highway, city street, or county road, and regardless of the posted speed limit and the number of lanes, motorists traveling in both directions must stop when approaching a stopped school bus with its upper red lights flashing. The only exception to this is on highways separated by a median where traffic coming from the opposite direction is not required to stop.

Once stopped for a school bus, drivers must remain stopped until the lights have stopped flashing or the bus begins to move.

Penalties under the Highway Traffic Act for drivers who fail to stop for a stopped school bus with its upper red lights flashing are as follows:

First Offence:
 $400 to $2,000 fine and six demerit points on conviction
Subsequent Offences: $1,000 to $4,000 fine, six demerit points, and possible jail time of up to six months on conviction

Vehicle owners can now be charged if their vehicle illegally passes a stopped school bus, regardless of who was driving at the time of the offence. The penalties for this offence are the same as drivers face once convicted.

For complete details of Ontario’s School Bus Stopping Law as listed in the Highway Traffic Act, including penalties for non-compliance, please click here.

School Bus Safety For Passengers 
School bus travel is extremely safe. Although injuries to passengers are rare, they most often happen outside the school bus when students are boarding and exiting the bus, or crossing the street.

Remember these important safety tips when you are getting on and off the school bus:

  • Be at the school bus stop before the bus arrives.
  • Wait in a safe place away from the edge of the road.
  • Do not play in ditches or on snowbanks when waiting for the school bus.
  • Enter the school bus in single file and always hold the hand rail. Never push or shove.
  • Choose your seat right away and sit facing the driver at all times.
  • Keep the isles clear; place your backpack under the seat or on your lap.
  • Keep your arms and head inside the school bus.
  • Never throw things inside the school bus.
  • When you leave the school bus, move away from its side. If you can touch the bus, you are too close!
  • If you drop something near the bus, never try to pick it up because the bus driver may not see you. Ask the school bus driver to get it for you.
  • Always respect and obey the school bus driver. They need your help to get you to and from school safely.

If you need to cross the street to get on or off the school bus

  • Take at least 10 GIANT steps in front of the school bus, and look at the driver for a signal before crossing.
  • Look both ways before crossing the street. Just because the upper red lights are flashing on the school bus it doesn’t mean all cars and trucks have stopped.