As a new academic year begins, the Canada Safety Council is reminding road users that school buses will be back on the roads.

While school buses have a longstanding history of safety, and are known to be the safest way to transport children to and from school, 79 percent of all school-aged fatalities involving a school bus occur outside the bus and in or near school bus loading zones, according to Transport Canada.

“The quieter roads over the spring and summer has had a positive influence in creating a more relaxed driving experience,” said Gareth Jones, President and CEO of the Canada Safety Council.

“However, we are headed back into a school season where we can expect a sharp increase in vehicle activity. With that increase, it is so very important to remind ourselves that we need to plan more time for the drive, heighten our situational awareness and call upon our reserve in patience as we all adjust to the changes in traffic. Road safety happens individual by individual and moment by moment which means that each of us has a role to play in keeping the roads safe.”

Drivers are encouraged to keep up a scan of surroundings and make note of any school-aged children waiting by the road; being prepared to stop if there’s an approaching bus. Provincial and municipal laws and by-laws may vary, but generally forbid passing a school bus when its signal lights are flashing and its stop sign is extended — this is to protect children who may need to cross the road or interact with traffic.