PEI

Steeper fines not the answer to school bus violations, says highway safety director

Everything is on the table in discussions to make school bus stops on P.E.I. safer, says director of highway safety Graham Miner, but stronger penalties are likely not the answer.

'I don't think anybody is intentionally going through the light because the fine is too small'

The province has made additions to school buses to make stop warnings more visible. (Brian Higgins/CBC)

Everything is on the table in discussions to make school bus stops on P.E.I. safer, says director of highway safety Graham Miner, but stronger penalties are likely not the answer.

School bus safety became a hot topic on P.E.I. this week following the near miss of a six-year-old girl on Tuesday.

The province has taken a number of measures over the years to make school bus stops safer, said Miner, including more lights and signs on the buses to make them more visible. Miner described the penalty for passing a stopped school bus — a $5,000 fine and eight demerit points — as huge.

"I don't know if increasing the fine does anything, because I don't think anybody is intentionally going through the light because the fine is too small," he said.

Prevention better than punishment

There has also been talk about bringing back licence plates on the front of cars, but Miner said that is another measure that will only help catch a driver once the offence has been committed. The province also wants to focus on prevention.

"Part of it is education, and of course the importance of the media right now starting to shine more attention on this issue to try to create awareness to the public over and over about the danger of what's occurring," he said.

There are reports Tuesday's incident involved distracted driving, and Miner said that is another issue that requires more attention.

He said there has been talk at the federal level about making distracted driving a criminal offence.

More P.E.I. news

With files from Island Morning

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