PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND, Canada — Toughened penalties for illegally passing a school bus here will soon cost motorists a temporary loss of their driver’s license.
As of Dec. 8, motorists who fail to stop for a school bus with its red lights flashing will receive 12 demerit points, which will cause their license to be suspended for three months. In addition, the motorist will be fined $5,000 for the violation, according to a news release from the Transportation, Infrastructure and Energy department of Prince Edward Island.
“We all have a role to play in keeping children safe on their way to school,” said Transportation, Infrastructure and Energy Minister Paula Biggar. “This change means that drivers who ignore this law are not allowed on island roads. We are working with our police and education partners to prevent the dangerous practice of illegally passing school buses and we continue to explore comprehensive options to eliminate this unnecessary risk to children.”
Biggar told CBC that the province's government is looking into other prevention and enforcement measures, such as increasing the demerit points for using a handheld device while driving.
The previous penalty was normally a fine of $1,000 and eight demerit points, with a maximum fine of $5,000, according to CBC. The news source also noted that those fines were already the highest in Canada, according to a document from Biggar that was tabled by the legislature in November 2017.
To get their license reinstated, motorists will be required to meet with highway safety officials, pay a $100 reinstatement fee, and take a defensive driving course within six months of the getting their license back, according to the province’s Transportation, Infrastructure and Energy department. After that, motorists are placed on a demerit point probation; any additional demerits within one year will result in a further license suspension.
"No distraction is worth risking the life of a child," said Education, Early Learning and Culture Minister Jordan Brown. "I'm glad to see one more step being taken to protect our children who rely on the bus to get to school every day."