There is more than one method used in various school districts for loading and unloading students at the side of the road. Here in the Comox Valley, the school district and First Student Canada use the Baltimore System.
The Baltimore System is perhaps the most commonly used method and provides the highest guarantee of safety.
Here’s how it works. If the bus is able to leave the highway and use a pullout such as the shoulder of the road, the bus driver will not activate the flashing red lights. Students will load or unload in the pullout and will not cross the highway until after the bus departs.
If there is no pullout, the bus driver will stop on the highway and activate the flashing red lights. Students will then load or unload. Students are educated to not cross the highway until after the bus departs.
When meeting or overtaking a school bus showing flashing red lights, all motorists must stop and not proceed until the lights are shut off or the bus resumes travel. It is an offence in accordance with the Motor Vehicle Act not to stop.
It’s important to note that when flashing lights are used, their purpose is to stop traffic, not to assist children in crossing the road.
If you have a child riding the bus, talk to them about bus riding rules and safety tips. We created a helpful infographic “Ways to Ride the Bus Safely” that explains all the rules, which can be found on the school district website under Transportation. You can also learn more about school bus safety at DriveSmartBC.