FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – The fourth annual Safe Stop event, which aims to educate drivers about the dangers of illegally passing school buses, is happening in Fort St. John later this week.
The Safe Stop campaign was launched by local school bus driver Cindy Dettling three and a half years ago. Dettling was spurred into action after noticing the frequency with which drivers had passed while her school bus’ flashing lights were active.
“It happened to me three times in one morning in the space of five minutes,” said Dettling during an interview in 2015. “What they’re not getting is that we’re not stopping to tick people off. We’re loading kids. When my red lights are on, there’s kids on the highway.”
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In no small part due to Dettling’s work, the provincial government announced the following year that it would be increasing the fines for passing a school bus from $167 to $368 for the first offence and $668 for the second offence.
She explained that since the campaign started drivers have been getting the message, as the frequency with which she has noticed drivers illegally passing her bus has dropped by 50 percent.
Dettling said that in years past, the Safe Stop event has featured school bus drivers and their buses parked at various locations around the Energetic City in order to raise awareness about their flashing lights.
This year, Dettling said that campaign organizers will be hosting the event at a single location over the course of several hours.
The event was originally scheduled for Wednesday, but Dettling said that organizers have postponed until Thursday due to the snow forecast to fall on Tuesday evening through the overnight hours.
The Safe Stop event is happening at the Safeway parking lot in Fort St. John from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
The event will feature some hands-on learning about the safety features of the District’s school buses, along with prizes and a hamburger barbeque.