Starting this weekend, drivers in one Canadian province who illegally pass school buses that have their flashing red lights activated will run the risk of losing their licenses for three months.
The measure, which goes into effect Saturday in Prince Edward Island, came as parents, school bus drivers and others called for increased penalties after several students were nearly struck by vehicles this fall, CBC News reported.
“We all have a role to play in keeping children safe on their way to school,” said Paula Bigger, Prince Edward Island’s minister of transportation, infrastructure and energy. “This change means that drivers who ignore this law are not allowed on Island roads.”
The law ups the penalty for illegally passing a school bus from eight to 12 demerit points, automatically triggering a three-month license suspension, government officials said. Drivers could also face a fine of up to $5,000 CAD ($3,790 USD).
Drivers will be required to meet with highway safety officials, pay a $100 reinstatement fee and take a defensive driving course within six months in order to get their licenses reinstated, officials said.
“No distraction is worth risking the life of a child,” said Jordan Brown, Prince Edward Island’s minister of education, early learning and culture.
Several deadly school bus-related incidents were reported in the United States this fall as well. The incidents spurred someone to post a petition on WhiteHouse.gov calling for a federal bus stop safety law. However, the measure did not get enough signatures to prompt a response from White House officials.