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Concerns raised after video shows vehicle ignoring bus stop sign

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Concerns about student safety are raised after a video shows a vehicle driving around a school bus with its stop sign out.

Adam Leonard captured the video on Thursday near Young St. and Duke St. W in downtown Kitchener. The school bus was dropping of a student with its stop sign out, when someone ignored the other honking vehicles and went around. Nobody was hurt.

“Unimpressed. Those lights are up for a reason. The people that come off the bus there, they’re generally kindergarteners so,” Leonard said.

Leonard spoke with the bus driver after, and said the driver wasn’t too pleased. Leonard said it also wasn’t the first person to do something similar that day.

“Reported somebody else actually,” Leonard said.

After seeing the video, Student Transportation Services of Waterloo Region (STSWR) said it’s a bad situation.

“Somebody does not recognize the risk associated with that. This is where students are the most vulnerable. I don't believe that anybody would want to go to bed at night knowing that they've injured a student or worse,” Benoit Bourgault, general manager of STSWR.

Drivers going around extended school bus stop signs is an issue bus drivers deal with too often, according to Bourgault.

“We do have issues with people not respecting. It's the most frustrating part of the school bus driver. They're responsible for the safety of the student. This is where students are the most vulnerable. This is where fatalities happen in student transportation services,” Bourgault said.

To improve student safety the service introduced a pilot project where it installed six-foot stop sign extenders on three of its busses last March. The sign extends further on to the road, making it even more obvious that someone is getting off the bus.

school bus extedned stop sign“On a regular street, two lane street, it takes a lot of space. If somebody is going to pass by, it will be willful. It's not going to be a mistake,” Bourgault said.

A school bus with an extended stop sign out in Waterloo. (CTV News/Colton Wiens)

The service plans to keep the extended arms on the three buses permanently. It is also working to add extenders to five more buses in order to collect more data.

“Three is more than 10 per cent of the fleet, but it's still nowhere near coverage and we want to collect good data and then we'll decide if we something that we're going to continue to expand,” Bourgault said.

Parents and guardians outside St Luke Catholic School and Lester B. Pearson Public School on Monday said it’s an idea they support.

“You see near misses all the time, where people aren’t sure what to do, and they see a school bus and they zip around. Or you see parents running after cars yelling at them,” Mike Stork said.

“I think they should all have them. I know people don‘t really follow the rules of the road anyways. Especially, when it comes to school buses, they generally go around if they think they can get around it,” Janet Kauk said.

STSWR said even with the arm extended, four lane roads are still an issue.

“Four lane highways are still a problem, although we try not to have students cross the road on the four lanes. But there's still high school student that will get off at the closest stop to their home and they will cross wherever,” Bourgault said.

Bourgault said the service will keep collecting data, but it’s too early to say if they will outfit each bus with an extended stop sign arm.

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