Drivers in Prince Edward Island, Canada who choose to ignore school bus lights and illegally pass buses will face a three-month driver’s license suspension, a $5,000 fine, and 12 demerit points on their driving record starting December 8.
Once the law takes effect, drivers with suspended licenses must “meet with highway safety officials, pay a $100 reinstatement fee and take a defensive driving course within six months of getting their licence back,” reports CBC News. Even after that, drivers will remain on probation. Any infractions resulting in demerit points within a year of license reinstatement will result in further suspension.
As it stands, drivers who violate school bus laws in Prince Edward Island are susceptible to fines ranging from $1,000 to $5,000 and 8 demerit points — the strictest punitive measures in the country — but residents have been pushing for even harsher penalties for law-breakers. And they’ve finally gotten them.
The United States could learn a lesson from its neighbors to the north.
Already this year, headlines have been filled with stories of children who have been killed by people illegally passing school buses, including three children who died in Rochester, Indiana after a 24-year-old driver passed the school bus and struck the children as they were crossing the road to board. And while some communities have been cracking down on drivers who ignore those tell-tale flashing lights — including Florida’s Pasco County Sheriff’s Office, which took down strings of motorists who illegally passed school buses in the county — it’s still not enough.
According to a voluntary survey conducted by the Indiana Department of Education in 2018, 3,000 respondents reported illegally passing stopped school buses in just one day. IN A SINGLE DAY. AND IN A SINGLE STATE.
Imagine how many motorists did not answer the survey honestly. And then imagine what the figures are for the country as a whole.
While some states carry severe penalties for drivers who violate stopped school bus laws — including Illinois, which punishes motorists with a three-month license suspension and a $150 fine — others, such as Michigan — which charges motorists a mere $100 to $500 fine and the possibility of 100 hours community service — are far less stringent.
I’ve seen it myself numerous times. Whether it’s out of ignorance about the law or self-absorption, I have personally witnessed drivers passing stopped school buses with lights flashing, and I’ve lost my everloving mind, honking my horn and shouting at the top of my lungs.
Because these are children here, people. Little beings who rely on us to keep them safe. And when we blatantly refuse to follow the laws that do just that — or we didn’t bother to pay attention to that chapter in driver’s ed — we should face some serious consequences. Lord knows kids such as those three in Indiana certainly did.
I tip my hat to citizens and officials in Prince Edward Island who are doing their best to ensure their children’s safety. I hope citizens and lawmakers in all the United States follow suit.