(Photo taken by Martin Halek)
Marco Gravina lives off of Highway 118 East in Bracebridge. He says it’s common to see drivers get right up behind a school bus or, worse, blow past one when it’s stopped.
Ontario law dictates that drivers must stop at least 20 metres behind a school bus when its red lights are flashing and the stop arm is out.
Gravina says “two or three” times a week he catches drivers getting too close. “People are getting right up on the bus,” says Gravina .”Last year, I was getting my kid off the bus and all of the sudden the horn on the bus just went crazy. I ran up there and somebody has blown past the bus just as my kid was about to walk across the road.”
According to the OPP, if you pass a bus with its red lights activated and stop arm out, the fine ranges between $400 to $2,000, plus six demerit points. After that, the fine is bumped up to between $1,000 to $4,000, six demerit points and a possible jail sentence.
“My biggest problem is how close people stop to the bus,” Gravina says, adding he’s tired of telling people off who get too close.
Gravina says he’s seen people who pass when the busses’ red lights are flashing, but the stop arm isn’t out yet. “It’s a joke,” he says. “When those lights are flashing nobody should pass.”
Gravina says he doesn’t want to lose his son because of something that’s easily preventable. “I think it’s ridiculous that people are that dense,” he adds.
He cites the 2018 death of twin brothers and their older sister that were struck by a pick-up truck as they were crossing the road to get on the bus in Indiana. “Can you imagine being a parent and losing both your kids at the same time,” he asks.
He says he’s called the police but doesn’t have the license plate number of the alleged offenders, so there’s nothing the cops can do. He suggests that busses install dashcams to catch offenders or install an enhanced light system to leave no doubt in drivers’ minds that the bus is coming to a stop.
Neither the Bracebridge nor Huntsville OPP detachments have reported charging a driver for blowing past a stopped school bus so far this year.