Drivers ignoring traffic-safety rules to speed past school buses have one South Surrey woman calling on police to put a higher priority on children’s safety.
Dyanna Zimmer said she says a prayer every time she watches her 13-year-old daughter, Sam, cross the road to catch the bus on 192 Street near 32 Avenue.
Every day, the bus stops, flashes its lights and puts down its stop sign, signalling to motorists not to pass because children are crossing, she said.
And an “unbelievable” number of drivers ignore the signals, she said.
“I know it may sound silly, but when she is on the road and I’m in my living room, I say a prayer to myself. I just ask, ‘please keep her safe’,” Zimmer said.
Zimmer said efforts – as recent as last month – to get Surrey RCMP involved have been frustrating. First, she was told that the responsibility of tracking down the drivers’ information – such as licence plates – lies with the bus driver or parents; a task often made difficult due to a lack of visibility.
Even with the details, acting on the information would not be easy, Cpl. Drew Grainger told Peace Arch News.
“We would need a detailed statement from the witness and then we could process charges,” he said.
And while Zimmer wants a police officer tasked to follow her daughter’s bus for a week and reprimand drivers who offend, Grainger said day-to-day operational constraints all but rule that option out.
He suggested Zimmer contact the South Surrey community police station for help from the Speed Watch team – volunteers who monitor speed and traffic safety in designated areas.
But Zimmer said that is not good enough. The most important use of police time should be ensuring the safety of children in the community, she said.
“It pisses me off that they will sit outside a pub or a restaurant, waiting for people to go for dinner and have a glass of wine and they will sit and wait for them – you see that all that time. They can wait there to issue their little fine, but not here. I find that a bit bogus. I think their priorities are all mixed up,” she said.
(Shortly after PAN contacted the RCMP, Zimmer received an email from the neighbourhood-liaison unit detailing efforts to organize a “speed and law-enforcement blitz” to address her concerns.)
Doug Strachan, spokesman for the Surrey School District, agreed that drivers endangering the lives of students needs to stop.
“There have certainly been incidents with children being hit by a car trying to pass a bus. Maybe not in this district, but it has happened,” Strachan said.
“It’s frustrating that people can’t see that being patient for 20 or 30 seconds for kids to leave the bus and cross the street can make all the difference. It’s pretty hard to justify passing a school bus.”