Nova Scotia

Drivers passing stopped school bus run up against frustrated mom

Tired of watching cars blowing by her daughter’s stopped school bus, a concerned parent in Bedford, N.S., has taken matters into her own hands and drivers are paying the price.

Videos posted to Facebook lead to police crackdown

Drivers who speed past stopped school buses have a variety of excuses for failing to stop, says Const. Larry Roberge of the Halifax Regional Police. (CBC)

Tired of watching cars blowing by her daughter's stopped school bus, a Halifax-area mother has taken matters into her own hands and drivers are paying the price.

Ashley MacMaster of Bedford said it's "insanely frustrating" watching traffic drive past the bus every day.

"They're putting the kids' lives at stake," she told CBC's Maritime Noon.

So she decided to record videos of the incidents and began to post them on Facebook, hoping to raise awareness about the dangers of failing to stop in such a situation.

Police stake out bus stop

Municipal councillors took notice of her handiwork, leading to a crackdown by Halifax Regional Police.

Drivers in the province are required by law to stop if they come across a school bus with red flashing lights, regardless of the direction from which they approach the bus.

We're seeing more and more people saying, 'We're late for work, we're going to appointments,' and they're just not paying attention.- Const. Larry Roberge

Const. Larry Roberge has been parked at the bus stop, located at Hammonds Plains Road and Killarney Drive, every morning for three weeks. So far he's issued 18 tickets for $410 and four demerit points.

"The school bus is quite visible, it has all its lights on. And these cars are just not making any attempt to stop, and they're driving in at fairly high speeds," said Roberge.

There have been a couple of close calls as a result, he said.

"Twice, we had an individual trying to cross the road while the bus had its lights activated and literally had to stop and almost got hit."

In one of MacMaster's videos, children can be seen boarding the bus as three vehicles in a row drive past it, prompting a police cruiser to give chase.

Drivers have excuses

When Roberge pulls drivers over for failing to stop, he said most of them say they either didn't see the bus or they didn't realize they were supposed to come to a halt.

It's a problem that he said is becoming more common in the area.

"Over the last two years, we've found an increase in people not stopping for school buses," he said.

"People are in a hurry. We're seeing more and more people saying, 'We're late for work, we're going to appointments,' and they're just not paying attention."

MacMaster said having a police officer on hand to dole out tickets doesn't seem to have had an impact on drivers yet. 

Mom calls for higher fines

With school set to wind down for the summer, she worries the problem will only resume in the fall. 

"You can't really move this bus stop. This place is pretty much the safest place for it to be," she said.

One solution might be to increase the fine for drivers who fail to stop, she said, "and hopefully one day they'll just stop doing it."

With files from Maritime Noon

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