A school bus safety program in Sudbury is working to ensure new bus riders know what to watch for on the road, especially in construction zones.

The Sudbury Student Services Consortium's First-Time Rider program is held annually for more than 600 junior kindergarten students.

The one-hour session covers a number of topics, including:

  • How to get on and off the bus.
  • How to cross the street.
  • How to navigate a construction zone.

"It's like this every year where one part of the city or another is going to have construction," said Francine Blais, the consortium’s safety officer. "Obviously we wouldn't create bus stops in an area where there is construction, so kids should just be aware of what's going on around them at all times anyways."

It's a message that's also coming from local construction companies.

Construction site supervisors have been incorporating back-to-school reminders into weekly safety meetings, according to Andre Lavallee, health and safety consultant with Belanger construction, which currently has a project near R.L. Beattie Elementary School in Sudbury's south end.

"For us, [it's] be more vigilant for pedestrians and where kids are actually walking in relation to where we're working," he said. 

The biggest impact of construction season on school buses is delays, especially during pickup hours, according to Blais. In that case, parents should be patient and wait with their child on the curb until the school bus arrives.


Francine Blais is the consortium's safety officer. (Hilary Duff/CBC)

There are some other key safety points that parents can review with their kids before the first day of school, Blais suggested.

For example, kids should learn to recognize that the bus is coming to a stop by reading the stop arm and the alternating lights.

Kids should also take their seats as soon as they get on the bus and be aware of the danger zone.

"There's a danger zone around the bus and you don't want the kids to be anywhere in that danger zone," Blais said.