A Windsor, Ont., school bus company has committed to installing mechanical “child check” alarm systems on all of its vehicles after a four-year-old girl was left in a parked bus for three hours Monday night.
4-years-old Ellery Chartier-Molinari sat forgotten in a parked school bus for three freezing hours Monday night while her mother led a frantic search across Windsor, Ont., and the outlying area.Ellery had fallen asleep on her bus as the driver passed by her daycare, completed his route and parked in a locked yard far from her home.
The bus driver was fired for failing to follow the company’s policy that requires employees check the bus before leaving for the night.
One way the company plans to ensure another child isn’t left behind is by installing an alarm that can only be disabled by pressing a button at the back of a bus.
Alex Bugeya, safety and legislation consultant with the Ontario School Bus Association explains, “Mechanically installed systems require the driver to walk to the back of the bus at the end of their shift to press a button — otherwise the horns and lights will sound.”
Transport Canada sets safety equipment standards for buses across the country and federal standards do not require any sort of system for ensuring all children have got off a bus, according to a statement from Ontario’s Ministry of Transportation.
The statement reads, “Although ‘child check’ type systems that require a bus driver to walk to the rear of the bus before exiting the bus are in common use, there is no federal or provincial regulatory requirement for such a system.”
So, the different ways companies ensure student safety on buses is left up to individual transportation consortiums and school boards.