British Columbia officials, pupil transportation professionals, and students gathered for a press conference to announce the increase of fines for illegally passing school buses.

British Columbia officials, pupil transportation professionals, and students gathered for a press conference to announce the increase of fines for illegally passing school buses.

VICTORIA, British Columbia — Fines for drivers who pass stopped school buses in British Columbia are more than doubling, to $368 for a first offense, the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure announced on Monday.

The move follows a review conducted in March that found that the previous fine, $167 for a first offense, was one of the lowest in Canada and was not enough to deter school bus stop-arm running.

For a second offense, the fine will increase to $668. For a third offense in a 12-month period, the fine will rise to $1,008.

Along with the increased fines, drivers will continue to receive three penalty points for stop-arm violations.

“It is important that all motorists understand that passing a school bus with flashing lights is dangerous and puts children’s lives at risk,” said Todd Stone, minister of transportation and infrastructure. “I want to thank the many parents, school bus drivers, and school trustees who have brought this issue to the public’s attention. It’s a result of their tireless advocacy that we have increased the fines to send a message that the safety of our children must come first when driving near school buses.”

Between 2009 and 2014 in British Columbia, 1,100 violation tickets were issued by police to drivers who failed to stop for a school bus. According to the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, no children were killed while getting on or off a school bus in the province, but 14 children were injured between 2009 and 2014.

“The safety of our children travelling to school by bus is a top priority for us,” said Mike Bernier, minister of education. “The people who drive those buses have a responsibility to get them to school and home safely, and we have a responsibility to support them.”

Cindy Dettling, who drives a school bus in School District 60 (Peace River North) added that she is “hopeful the increased fine will cause drivers to think twice before they illegally pass a school bus.”

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