OPP officers in northwestern Ontario say they’ve received multiple reports of vehicles illegally passing school buses since students returned to class for the 2022-2023 school year.

“This is a very dangerous act that could have fatal consequences if an innocent child is crossing the roadway. Police are reminding all drivers to slow down and to pay attention to the roadway,” said the OPP, in a prepared release.

The Dryden OPP is reminding residents that you must stop for a stopped school bus with its upper red lights flashing, stop at a safe distance to let children on or off the bus and cross the road, and don’t move forward until the lights have stopped flashing or the bus begins to move.

Upon conviction, a first offence can bring you a fine of up to $2,000 and six demerit points, with fines up to $4,000 and an additional six demerit points, as well as up to six months of jail time, for any following offences.

Of note, vehicle owners can be charged when their vehicle illegally passes a stopped school bus, even if they weren’t driving. This means that if you loan your car to a friend or your child and they illegally pass a school bus – you can still be charged and fined, but will not receive any demerit points.

And with charges bringing six demerit points, any drivers with a G1 or G2 license would receive escalated penalties – including a 30-day licence suspension for the first offence, a 90-day suspension for the second offence and a licence cancellation after the third offence.

Commercial Motor Vehicle operators are also warned that on top of the above penalties, they can receive the maximum of 5 CVOR points against you, which can result in being unemployable in the transportation industry.

Residents are reminded that you can report a vehicle that didn’t properly stop for a school bus by calling 911, and information should be provided to your local police detachment as soon as possible.