MATTAWA — The chair of the Let's Remember Adam campaign is expressing his exasperation at the conduct of some local drivers when it comes to school bus safety.
School bus safety advocate Pierre Ranger — whose brother Adam was struck by a vehicle and killed in 2000 as he crossed the road after disembarking from his school bus — shared his frustrations with the Let’s Remember Adam Facebook page's followers after reporting a harrowing first week back to school.
"I am personally at a loss of what to do. My family and I, as well as many others, work all year to try and make people understand why it’s so important to STOP and what you could lose if you don’t, but it would seem our message keeps falling on deaf ears," Ranger wrote in his post.
He shares in four safety check outings last week, there were "19 recorded incidents of people choosing to put children’s lives in danger by not stopping for the school bus," and other potentially dangerous incidents from which not enough information could be gathered to follow a report.
"The majority of these incidents were in the North Bay area," advises Ranger.
Last February, Ranger encouraged North Bay City Council to consider joining the ranks of municipalities — such as Mattawa — using stop-arm camera technology to identify those who do not stop for the school bus.
"I'm a huge supporter of anything that's going to make it safer to get children to and from school," stated Ranger then. "I've spent years trying to get drivers to understand the importance of stopping for the school bus with billboards, bumper stickers, and our message. Nothing seemed to work."
Ranger indicated the stop-arm cameras could be a game-changer in the safety field.
"Making them have to pay for not stopping for the school bus in a faster, more efficient way like these stop-arm cameras can do is a way we can get our message across."
The North Bay Police Service says enhanced traffic safety patrols started last Tuesday as part of a multi-week campaign to ensure road safety as students return to school. On the first day, police charged six people — five with speeding offences and one with disobeying a lane light.
Advocacy from the campaign has also contributed to a breakthrough when it comes to school bus safety. In May, the Safer School Buses Act, 2021, a Private Member's Bill from Kitchener-Conestoga MPP Mike Harris received Royal Assent and officially became law. By the 2022-2023 school year, Ontario will join every other jurisdiction in North America and require all school buses manufactured after 2005 to have the amber-red warning system.
With the amber-red warning system, the two inner red overhead lamps on the front and back of a school bus will be replaced with amber signals. A school bus driver would activate the amber signals when approaching a stop to give drivers clear advanced notice that they are slowing down to let a student on or off the bus. Once the bus is at a full and complete stop, the driver would activate the red lights.
Ranger acknowledges the tone of his post is negative and admits to feeling "beyond frustrated," with the continued disregard for school bus safety.
"People still put their own personal time ahead of a child’s life. It’s like some people just don’t care. You can say whatever you want about what we should do to get people to stop but I am honestly starting to think there is nothing we can do. People will drive distracted, get impatient or just put their personal time before that child’s life.
"The Ranger family, the Let’s Remember Adam campaign and many others have been fighting for over 17 years to try to make people understand. It just seems not to work. I am sorry this post is very negative but as I said I am at a loss and beyond frustrated. Our message is just not getting through! If you are one of the few that hear us and understand we THANK YOU.
"As always, Let’s Remember Adam. STOP FOR THE SCHOOL BUS."