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News archive for February 14, 2014

Drivers’ haste, stupidity are risking students’ lives

“The wheels on the bus go ’round and ’round ....”

By Stephanie Waddell on February 14, 2014 at 4:45 pm


Photo by Vince Fedoroff

Top: ONBOARD VIGIL – RCMP officer J-M sauvé rides along in a school bus Wednesday with an unmarked police vehicle trailing to go after drivers who flout the laws governing school bus safety. Bottom: A WITNESS TO RECKLESSNESS – ed oulton has seen drivers pass him with his red lights flashing as he drives his school bus. RCMP officers occasionally ride along, on the alert for dangerous drivers.

“The wheels on the bus go ’round and ’round ....”

And so too do the wheels on cars, minivans, SUVs, trucks and any other number of vehicles at the same time children might be crossing the street to or from school.

All of that is putting safe driving in school zones front and centre in the minds of many who have witnessed driver errors – or recklessness – that could put children’s lives at risk.

“Someone’s going to get hurt,” Steve White, who lives near Grey Mountain Primary School in Riverdale, said in an interview Thursday, adding his fear that someone could be killed if drivers don’t show more responsibility.

Both White and school bus driver Ed Oulton cited the school zone at Alsek Road and Lewes Boulevard as a problem area.

Oulton noted vehicles pass buses which have their flashing red stop lights on when students are getting on and off the bus.

White, meanwhile, has noticed vehicles parking on the Alsek Road crosswalk to the school, others blowing past stop signs and so on.

On Wednesday afternoon, Whitehorse RCMP Const. J-M Sauvé joined Oulton on his afternoon route driving students home from Takhini and Elijah Smith Elementary Schools as well as École Émilie-Tremblay.

As students were dropped off in Valleyview, downtown and then Riverdale, Oulton answered questions from Sauvé about what he sees on his routes.

Following a ways behind the school bus was an unmarked RCMP vehicle ready to pull over anyone passing the bus when its lights were on.

As Sauvé said, the RCMP have been receiving calls from both school bus drivers and members of the public who have seen drivers passing school buses with their red lights illuminated.

While many complaints have come from Riverdale, which also has the city’s highest concentration of schools, Sauvé said it’s not the only neighbourhood with bad driving problems.

“The complaints come from all over in Whitehorse,” he said, noting that such “ride-a-longs” on the school bus are not uncommon and provide the best enforcement options.

It’s difficult for bus drivers to get licence plate numbers from vehicles racing past them, he noted.

“This is the best way,” Sauvé said, adding that along with continued ride-alongs, the information he gained on the hour-long route will help determine where RCMP patrols may happen at certain times of the day in the future.

“It’s the safety of our children,” he stressed.

The officer emphasized the importance of drivers abiding by the rules in school zones and stopping behind school buses flashing their warning lights.

“This is very important,” he said.

As students boarded the bus, Sauvé’s presence, along with that of reporters, garnered more than a few questions from curious youngsters.

As they learned about Sauvé’s work, they wondered how much a driver could be ticketed.

Sauvé took the time to explain a ticket for passing a school bus flashing its red lights is $230.

The police, however, can opt to go through a long-form information process that would bring the matter to court and give a judge the option for a steeper fine.

Whether a driver is summoned to court rather than simply being able to pay the ticket is largely dependent on circumstances, Sauvé said, confirming that among them, a repeat offender could potentially face a higher fine.

As Oulton made his way through Riverdale, stopping the bus to let rosy-cheeked students off to many waiting parents, he recalled one vehicle that continued past his bus when the lights are flashing and children are crossing the street.

As White noted, if drivers simply followed the rules of the road, there wouldn’t be a safety problem.

In one case, when he pointed out to a driver that the vehicle was parking on the cross-walk, he was informed there was no sign prohibiting such a practice.

He pointed out many of those parking there are parents taking their kids to school. It’s almost seems that while they keep their own kids safe, they don’t think about the safety of other children, White added.

While he and his family have also had to deal with their driveway being blocked, he said that’s not his major concern.

A number of drivers also ignore the stop signs at the intersections.

Then there are the parents who cross the street away from the cross-walk, he noted.

White said he has seen some students directing their parents to use the cross-walk to be safe.

He and his family have contacted both RCMP and the city’s bylaw department a number of times about the situation.

While White said he and his family have seen a bylaw officer in the area a few times in the early-morning hours when students are coming to school, he noted there don’t seem to be any tickets being handed out.

He argued that if a couple of tickets were, word would likely spread pretty fast, and perhaps prevent drivers from parking where they shouldn’t.

Bylaw manager Dave Pruden said Thursday that while the RCMP deal with issues around drivers ignoring school buses with their lights flashing, bylaw officers have issued warnings to those parking in crosswalks and the like, looking for compliance.

“Ideally, we don’t issue tickets for that,” he said.

Officers try to stress the importance of student safety and simply gaining compliance from drivers.

CommentsAdd a comment


Feb 14, 2014 at 5:14 pm

Another issue that needs to go along with this is people ignoring the school zone posted speed limit of 30km. The worst ones seem to be Takhini Elementary and FH Collins/Selkirk Elementary. People just aren’t slowing down.

Clayton Johns

Feb 14, 2014 at 5:14 pm

WAY to easy to get a driver’s license in the Yukon!  When I got mine, I had to do 50 hrs in a classroom, 30hrs on the road w/instructor, and that was the fastest way to get your license! At my highschool it was a graduation requiremnnt and took a whole semester!  Here in the Yukon…......well now…. just take a look at how inconsiderate most drivers are, and their lack of caring!

Arn Anderson

Feb 14, 2014 at 9:13 pm

I hope you are not saying other province’s drivers are better than us because they have all this so called training up the wazoo. Spend some time anywhere and you will get annoyed by any area’s drivers, simple.


Feb 14, 2014 at 9:43 pm

I agree with the enforcement of traffic laws, mostly in school zones.  But is the officer that flew his plane into fulda cars on fish lake really the right guy to say anything about right and wrong.

Clayton Johns

Feb 15, 2014 at 3:24 pm

Just saying that to get a license in the Yukon takes no mental prep. at all!  They hand out licenses in the communities, I know A LOT of people that should not own one and do!  That’s all I’m saying!


Feb 15, 2014 at 4:55 pm

50 hours in a class room to get your license? That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard.

Please help

Feb 15, 2014 at 8:20 pm

Great initiative on the ride-alongs!! Please RCMP…also be on the lookout for the multitude of drivers who seem to feel it is acceptable to text and drive. I have seen a number of these occurrences in a school zone while waiting to pick up my child. How stupid can people be? It would only take a second to kill a child because your “LOL” is more important than driving safely.

Fed Up

Feb 16, 2014 at 7:01 am

I agree there is a big safety issue happening here. I also agree that the School Bus Drivers have to share some of the blame. We live in Porter Creek and am shocked everyday by the speed and carelessness these drivers show.
Let’s put it this way, I say to my husband at least once a week “I’m so thankful we don’t have children who have to ride the bus here”.

Start ticketing

Feb 16, 2014 at 7:17 am

Warnings will not change peoples’ behaviour, but tickets and fines will. If there’s any situation that calls for enforcement, this one does. Am tired of City by-law office talking about responding only on a ‘complaint’ basis, and hoping that people will become ‘compliant’ due to education campaigns.


Feb 16, 2014 at 12:51 pm

We need more enforcement on our roads at all times of the day and of course near schools.

There are very bad driving habits and then there is the impaired and drunk driving which seems far to prevalent in Whitehorse. The trailheads used by skidoos should also be checked randomly and the city needs to start checking for the licenses and insurance which people usually do not have.

There is a bad driving culture here that needs to be addressed because far too many accidents are preventable.

Clayton Johns

Feb 16, 2014 at 2:15 pm

@ Anon:  You think teaching people how to drive and respect laws is stupid? hmmmm, guess we should continue letting just anyone drive w/out being educated!  It takes a lot more “knowing” than just how to park a car!  I’m glad I got to do that!  I have no traffic violations, no tickets, don’t get pulled over and harrassed by law and never had an accident!  Yeah, real stupid!


Feb 17, 2014 at 8:49 am

@ Melissa

Exactly!  However, do note that due to the meridian along the FH Collins area, the school zone speed limit only effects the Riverdale inbound traffic and not the outbound traffic.


Feb 17, 2014 at 8:55 am

They should also do ride-alongs on the Hamilton speedway.  Both the 4 and 5 pm race times in particular.


Feb 17, 2014 at 10:10 am

Stan…..those pesky drunken skidoo drivers again….how does that link to RCMP enforcing school zone and school bus infractions in Whitehorse?
You better not be one of the ones texting and driving either Stan….


Feb 17, 2014 at 1:41 pm

No 50 hours is just excessive. I have a class 1 with less classroom time bud, and in the Yukon you need 50 hours on the road, not 30 to get your license and I think that’s fine although I think people from the communities should do their road tests in Whitehorse with traffic lights, multiple lanes and what not.


Feb 17, 2014 at 3:06 pm


Guilt by name? I do not know which Stan you think I am. Point I was making is that the driving culture in this town is very bad on roads and off roads and random checks are needed in many places to address this unfortunate situation.

In town we regularly see vehicles running lights and its not uncommon to see 2 vehicles run the same red light- by running I mean they entering the intersection after the light has turned red. On trails some ORVs are driven like they are competing in a race and yes, drinking and driving also takes place there. A few random checkstops may help, and the police have said they cannot believe drivers have not gotten the message.

I do not text while driving and know people who have died or been premanently disabled by drunk drivers. All this is relevant to school zones because people who are careless when children are involved are usually a menace in other areas.

My trailhead suggestion was meant to ensure there is an enforcement presence everywhere and not meant to be provocative. Sorry if it touched a nerve. When riding a bike there are streets downtown I will not ride on because drivers make them too dangerous. Maybe the message for our children using xwalks is they should wait until there is no traffic before crossing.

Clayton Johns

Feb 17, 2014 at 3:30 pm

Agreed, seen people get their license and doing their driver’s test out in Carcross! lol couldn’t believe it!


Feb 17, 2014 at 6:17 pm

School zones are twice the length they need to be.


Feb 17, 2014 at 6:28 pm

Is the officer in the picture the irresponsible person that clipped a FULDA vehicle parked at Fish Lake with his airplane stunting and making very poor and irresponsible decisions that could of taken the lives of innocent people?
If in fact this is to be true, very very concerning knowing this is the poster boy for awareness and education for the public relating to safety.


Feb 17, 2014 at 7:59 pm

I’m aware that it’s only the one lane. I’m talking about the lane it affects. I have many people driving to close to me because they don’t follow the speed limit.

Yukoner 2

Feb 18, 2014 at 2:27 pm

@ Melissa if you are doing the speed limit, it doesn’t matter if their parked on your bumper they have to be doing the speed limit.

How Ironic

Feb 18, 2014 at 2:42 pm

So they put this clown in the front seat to tackle bad drivers but considering his history of “dangerous driving” and guilty plea you would think they could find a better fit for the job….just sayin…

Sure is Easy

Feb 18, 2014 at 3:45 pm

Sure is easy for everyone to point their fingers. Lets blame the skidoos, the cell phone users, the plane crashers. We are all guilty of bad habits during driving. Some are worse than others. Instead of these comments practicing blame maybe it is time to reflect on how you can personally better your driving habits.


Feb 19, 2014 at 4:15 am

Haha ya for sure Clay Johns, should be a program for community citizens to do a road test in the bustling metropolis that is Whitehorse.

Drive Carefully

Feb 19, 2014 at 9:46 am

Just this morning driving out of Copper Ridge I had a driver right on my bumper all the way into downtown Whitehorse.
I am not sure what these people think that need to ride other drivers bumpers, do you think the other driver will speed up, not likely, in fact in most cases it will have the opposite effect.

Don’t ride other drivers bumpers, it is not necessary and does no good.

Dustin G

Feb 19, 2014 at 8:15 pm

I’m confused are you guys saying that you disagree with the message or the messenger.
Does it really matter?
What the officer did is done and over with he has paid for or is paying for his actions.
Makes me wonder what the driving habits are of the ones complaining of the messenger??? Are you perfect or something?

It matters

Feb 20, 2014 at 2:18 pm

@Dustin G ... I agree with the matter, however it makes a difference who the messenger is. If you want the message to be received properly and for it to make a significant difference you select the best role model to relay the message. Like you wouldn’t send someone decked out in all mink and leathers to speak on behalf of PETA now would you? Because it would mock the message. Which in turn causes us to focus on the delivery of the message rather than the matter, causing it to be ineffective. So yeah it does matter.

Loves Yukon

Feb 20, 2014 at 8:20 pm

To those making this story about the police officer, I can’t help but wonder if in the future, your child was getting off or on a stopped schoolbus, then got hit or killed by a vehicle that was passing while red lights flashing, what you would think! Would you still blame the RCMP and those on duty that morning/afternoon for someone passing the schoolbus and hurting/killing your child?! I hope not, but for some sad reason, I know many would. If so, open your narrow mind a little, and see that this story raises awareness and that the RCMP are doing a good thing.


Feb 21, 2014 at 6:24 am

Why the need for speed ? Even in Faro people are in such a hurry. For those that have never been to Faro it’s like Whosville. Speed kills period.


Feb 21, 2014 at 10:48 pm

@ Loves Yukon,  I don’t believe that there is one post on here going against the RCMP.  They all agree with school zone enforcement. The problem is the spokesperson they chose.  This guy took a machine to a fairly remote area and still managed to make contact between two vehicles that should never have contact unless in maybe an emergency on a runway.  So you want this guy driving through your not so remote and overly busy school zones. The RCMP are right but this guy shouldn’t have a job, and he paid nothing for his carelessness.  I wouldn’t want him driving through my school zones or flying overhead.

Just Say'in

Feb 22, 2014 at 12:32 am

Yep. That is Buzz Lightyear our fearless freep in his flying machine. I wouldn’t have any trouble cutting them some slack. But let me roll one stop sign and see what leniency I get.

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