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School Bus Rules and Regulations in Canada

School buses are a highly relied source of transportation for students. To ensure that there is enhanced safety and security, there are many rules and regulations issued by governing bodies. These rules help to build trust and confidence among parents that their child safely reaches school and returns home.

In Canada, the federal and provincial/territorial governments and school boards share the responsibility for school bus safety. These include standard rules for bus design, rules while getting in, riding, and alighting the bus, and driver certifications. Here is a list of rules that are in place to ensure a safe and secure travel experience for students.

Standard School Bus Design

National school buses in Canada have a glossy yellow color, and they come in a variety of sizes. According to the Canadian Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (CMVSS) a school bus must have the following design elements for a smooth and comfortable journey and to ensure maximum protection in case of emergencies.

  • High-padded seatbacks made with energy-absorbing materials.
  • Seats arranged as compartments for maximum protection.
  • Fixed and flexible seat belt configuration.
  • Strong seat anchorages.
  • Side emergency exits, a large rear door, and roof hatch.
  • A specified amount of high-quality bus body strength.
  • Roof-mounted strobe lights for visibility in fog conditions.
  • Traffic control devices, stop signal arm, and flashlights.
  • Fuel system integrity to avoid fuel leakage in any emergency.

Driver Certifications and Legal Requirements

To become a licensed school bus driver in Canada, an individual has to meet certain legal requirements. They must have:

  • 20 to 40 hours of specialized training.
  • Cleared written exams and a bus road test.
  • Clean driving records.
  • Attend regular medical examinations.
  • Complete certified driver improvement courses.
  • Have knowledge of traffic laws and safety procedures.
  • Submit themselves for Periodic re-evaluations as per School Board requirements.

Rules Students must Follow While Waiting for and Getting in the Bus

  • Arrive at the bus stop 5 minutes before the bus arrives at your designated stop.
  • The bus will not wait if the student isn't at the stop at the agreed time.
  • Students should never run or rush while getting in or out of the bus.
  • They must stand in a safe place away from the side of the road.
  • They should not stand in the area marked as danger zone around the bus. Stand at a distance where you cannot touch the bus.
  • If a student has to cross a street to get on the school bus, they have to wait until the bus has arrived at the stop.
  • While crossing,look out for the flashing red lights and the stop signal arm to come out from the side of the bus and cross the road when the driver gives the signal.

Rules Every Student must Follow While Getting on the School Bus

  • Hold the handrail and do not push when getting on the bus.
  • They must sit facing forward in their assigned seats.
  • Keep head, hands, and arms inside the bus.
  • Place bags and parcels on their lap or under their seat.
  • Fighting or shouting on the bus is not allowed. The students have to speak quietly so that the driver can focus his/her attention on the road.
  • Maintain silence when the bus approaches a railroad crossing.
  • Do not miss participating in bus evacuation procedures.
  • Do not carry any dangerous objects or substances on the bus.
  • Eating or drinking is not allowed on the school bus at any time.
  • Follow the bus driver’s instructions as a rule.

Rules Every Student must Follow While Alighting from the School Bus

  • Remain seated until the bus arrives at the stop.
  • Tightly hold the handrail when you leave the bus.
  • Cross only when the driver gives a signal.
  • Look both ways to check traffic before crossing the street.
  • Take two large steps and walk away from the bus.
  • Take ten giant steps ahead to cross a street in front of the bus.
  • Students seated at the front should alight first.
  • Do not push when getting down the bus.
  • Do not pick objects that have fallen near the bus. Inform an adult in such situations.
  • If students want to get off the bus somewhere else other than their designated spot, they need to have a written note from their parents.

Rules for Multifunction School Activity Buses

Canada also has multifunction school activity buses (MFSAB) that are white in color. These buses are specifically used for extracurricular activities and trips to the zoo, museums, or other places of interest. As there is only one pick up and one drop location, drivers do not have to control traffic during such trips.

The rules pertaining to school bus pedestrian safety devices (CMVSS 131) and Lighting systems and reflective devices (CMVSS 108) apply to the MFSAB. These buses must also adhere to the structural requirements and seat compartmentalization recommended for the national school buses.