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Students get creative in addressing school bus red light violations

As part of the School Bus Safety Week kick-off, students from across Nova Scotia produced short videos reminding drivers to stop for the school bus

Dartmouth, NS - HALIFAX, NS, October 14, 2015 – Over the past two days, the importance of school bus safety has been acknowledged, marking the launch of School Bus Safety Week October 19-23, 2015. The first event, hosted by Q104’s Kate Peardon, took place at Safety Services Nova Scotia in Dartmouth. At the event winners from the student video contest were announced in all three categories: elementary, middle/junior high and high school. The second event was held this morning at Meadowfields Community School in Yarmouth where students celebrated their success as the video contest winners in the elementary category.

Safety Services Nova Scotia and the Nova Scotia School Boards Association have begun working together and with industry partners to raise awareness of school bus safety, in particular on school bus red light violations.

Approximately 90,000 school children travel by school bus daily in Nova Scotia. Vehicles are illegally passing school buses stopped to pick up or drop off students, which increases the risk of injury to children around the bus and crossing the street.

Minister. Of Education and Early Childhood Development, Karen Casey, attended the launch event in Dartmouth. “The number of motorists illegally passing school buses speaks to how important it is for students to always be aware of their surroundings when exiting and entering a school bus. Students cannot assume they are automatically in a safe zone,” said Minister Casey. “I applaud the efforts of both the Nova Scotia School Boards Association and Safety Services Nova Scotia for their work to raise awareness of school bus safety with all Nova Scotians.”

This past spring, school bus drivers across Nova Scotia reported over 300 red light violations between April 1 and May 31, 2015. Incidents were more likely to occur in the afternoon, especially when the offending vehicle was driving toward the school bus in the opposite lane. "It's interesting to hear people say they could never drive a bus full of kids, especially in bad weather," says Jessie Cook, a bus driver from Yarmouth. "You would think that would be our biggest concern, but it's not. As a school bus driver my biggest concern is the amount of red light violations we have."

The student produced videos were all powerful and highlighted the importance of stopping for school buses. Mara Grant of Sir John A Macdonald School, Jessica Metzler and Taylor MacDonald from Sackville Heights Junior High, and Ellie Holtz from Meadowfields Community School produced the winning videos.

“The focus of our School Bus Safety campaign and video contest is to educate the driving public that traffic is required to stop in both directions when a school bus is stopped to let children on and off the bus,” says Jackie Norman, President and CEO of Safety Services Nova Scotia. “The yellow lights are a warning that the bus is about to stop, the red flashing lights mean you have to stop.”

Safety Services Nova Scotia and the Nova Scotia School Boards Association have been working with law enforcement agencies, school boards, the Departments of Education and Early Childhood Development and Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal.

"School board members from across the province have acknowledged that school bus red light violations are a concern in their areas. We are happy to be working with many partners to raise awareness and educate the public on the risks of passing a stopped school bus," says Sue Ritchie, President of the Nova Scotia School Boards Association.

To view the winning student videos, visit www.schoolbussafety.ca

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For more information contact:

Trish Smith – Communications Officer

Office: 902 491-2856

Cell: 902-497-0951

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Amy Grant

Public Relations Coordinator

Safety Services Nova Scotia

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902-454-96210ext. 233