A school bus safety expert along with local police near Toronto agree that a school bus driver and a motorist were both at fault during an incident last month when a 10-year-old girl was nearly hit as she crossed the street from her school bus stop.
Home surveillance video shot toward the street in Pickering, Ontario on Sept. 29 shows students safely crossing with the school bus stop arm and crossing gate activated. Then, after the school bus driver deactivates both safety devices, the video shows the bus driver wave Rebecca Hillier across the street. The girl then runs across the street as the motorist comes into view and drives past. CTV reports that Hillier said she actually felt the car graze her book bag.
Constable Gord Fleming of the Durham Regional Police said no charges will be filed because the motorist was allowed to pass the school bus because the stop arm and flashing lights were no longer active. But he admitted that the motorist was driving too fast for conditions and that the school bus driver erred by waving Hillier across the street without the traffic controls.
Jeff Cassell, president of the School Bus Safety Company, told STN that three things went wrong that day.
“The driver never should have signaled girl to cross as they had closed the stop sign. The girl never should have run across the road. She should have stopped and looked,” he said. “Really, the car should not have passed the bus, but legally they can. Having said that, they were going far too fast and should have been on a careful look out for kids.”
A school board spokesman told STN that the incident has been addressed with the bus driver through contractor Stock Transportation and the video is being used for additional driver training.
A spokeswoman for National Express Corporation, the parent company of Stock Transportation as well as Durham School Services and Petermann Bus, sent the following statement:
"The safety of our students is our top priority. We are sharing this incident with all of our drivers as a safety reminder. Given this week is celebrated as School Bus Safety Week, a campaign to help raise awareness of student safety as they travel to and from school, our focus remains on reminding all — drivers, students and motorists — that everyone has a role to play in safe student transportation."
It is currently National School Bus Safety Week in Canada as well as the U.S.