Kitchener-Conestoga MPP Mike Harris Introduces Legislation to Improve School Bus Safety

Published on February 16, 2021

The Safer School Buses Act, 2021 Would Require Ontario School Buses to Use the Safer Amber-Red Warning System

February 16, 2021


TORONTO- Today Kitchener-Conestoga MPP Mike Harris introduced his Private Member’s Bill, the Safer School Buses Act, 2021. If passed, this bill would amend Section 175 of the Highway Traffic Act to require school buses manufactured after 2005 to be equipped with the amber-red dual lamp warning system by September 2022.


The bill proposes to replace the two inner red overhead signals on the front and back of a school bus with amber lights which would activate when a school bus driver is approaching a stop. This system would provide drivers with more notice that a bus will be stopping and clear indication when a student may be on the roadway. 


“As a parent, I firmly believe that safety should be the number one priority, especially when it comes to the buses children take to and from school. Now is the time for Ontario to join the rest of North America and adopt the amber-red warning system to make buses as safe as possible. I am pleased to finally introduce this long-awaited legislation and will work with members of all parties to push it across the finish line”, said MPP Mike Harris.


In a study published in 2002, Transport Canada recommended that all provinces use the amber-red system. This study found that amber warning lights were more consistent at slowing approaching vehicles down and yielded fewer stopping violations. Since 2014, every other province in Canada has adopted the system.


“School Bus Ontario  (SBO) is  pleased to support MPP Mike Harris' Private Members Bill that will, if passed, move toward the adoption of the 8-lamp system to warn motorists of the need to stop when the lights are flashing. SBO shares the desire to adopt the best practices from other jurisdictions in North America to improve student safety on school buses. The 8-lamp system is a definite road safety benefit, primarily to students, compared to the all red warning system that is currently in use in the province,” said Nancy Daigneault, Executive Director of School Bus Ontario.


The Ministry of Transportation has required all school buses purchased in Ontario after January 1, 2005 to be manufactured with 8 overhead signal lights. For most bus models this change would only require a replacement of the lens cap.


“On behalf of all students in the Province, we urge the Government to make the necessary legislative changes to require the 8 lamp system with amber/red colour combo to improve student safety and eliminate a significant cause of confusion for motorists on the Ontario roads”, said Benoit Bourgault, Manager of Student Transportation Services Waterloo Region.


If passed, the Safer School Bus Act, 2021 would build on work already undertaken by the province to improve school bus safety. In 2019, regulatory changes were made by the Minister of Transportation to allow for school bus stop arm camera footage to be used to prosecute drivers who illegally pass stopped school buses.


Bill ** will be debated during second reading on March 3, 2021.