School bus driver Manon Girouard says she’s disappointed and upset with people who don’t respect the rules of the road — especially when there are children involved.
She picks children up on the way to St. Edmund Elementary School in Beaconsfield in Montreal’s West Island and says cars never give her the right of way, even if children are standing on the sidewalks.
“People just don’t care anymore. I don’t know why they act this way. They just don’t care. I can’t handle it. Something needs to change. I can’t live like this,” she said.
“I want my kids to be safe when they’re in the bus with me. This is our future we’re transporting.”
Girouard explains she picks up a young girl named Charlotte each morning. The girl has to cross the street to get to the bus.
“I’m afraid,” she admitted, noting the school board asked if she could pick her up somewhere else.
WATCH BELOW: Should bus drivers listen to talk radio with kids on board?
Girouard, who has been a school bus driver since 1996, said she was shocked to realize that most of the cars zooming right by her are parents bringing their children to school.
“They cannot wait, but they don’t realize if it was their kid, it won’t be the same story,” she told Global News.
“They don’t realize there are kids on the sidewalk and the street waiting for the bus. It’s so crazy.”
The Lester B. Pearson School Board (LBPSB) actually has a campaign at the start of the school year in collaboration with local police to remind parents to drive safely.
“School buses have lights, the arm comes down to slow everyone down, but people continue to drive around the bus when children are coming on and off,” said Carol Heffernan, assistant director general of the board.
She mused that perhaps the only way to sensitize parents is to ticket them if they don’t follow the law.
“It’s very disappointing, since we’re doing so much to try and keep our children safe,” Heffernan told Global News.
“You’re not showing a good example for our students when we’re trying to build up a community of people together.”
WATCH BELOW: Quebec village marks anniversary of Canada’s worst road accident
Girouard agrees the law-breaking was particularly bad in September as school started for the year.
“People were so impatient, they were in a hurry. Even the police officer that was there the first days of school was holding his head with two hands and he was like, ‘oh boy,'” Girouard told Global News.
What are the rules in Quebec?
When a yellow school bus stops to let children on or off, red lights will flash and stop signs are deployed on the side of the bus.
The Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec (SAAQ) explains drivers must immediately come to a complete stop, regardless of whether you are following or crossing the bus in the opposite direction.
This rule does not apply when there is a median wall between your vehicle and the bus.
The stopping distance between your vehicle and the bus must be at least five metres.
“Failing to stop, in either direction, when a school bus’s special red lights are flashing is one of the most severely punished offences,” says the SAAQ.
School zones have a speed limit of 30 km/h.