Ottawa installs cameras on school buses to catch drivers breaking the law
CTVNews.ca Staff, with a report from CTV News Ottawa's Christina Succi
Published Friday, May 24, 2019 10:24AM EDT
The City of Ottawa is equipping school buses with multiple cameras in an effort to catch drivers who illegally pass the vehicles when the lights are flashing and the stop arm is extended.
During an announcement on Thursday, Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson described the new program as the first of its kind in Ontario and a warning to motorists.
“Do not pass or you’re going to be fined $490,” he said.
It’s illegal for vehicles to pass a stopped school bus in both directions when the bus’s red lights are flashing. Although this law is nothing new, Watson said he still sees drivers ignore the rule.
“I’ve seen it a lot of times over the years and my blood boils,” he said.
Under the new system, school buses will be installed with four cameras mounted on the outside of the vehicle. The motion-detector cameras will turn on when a vehicle passes the bus and record 10 seconds of video. The footage will then be sent to a server where police officer will be able to view it to determine if the driver committed an offence.
Within seven days, the driver will receive a provincial offence notice as well as a fine, which can range from $490 for a first offence to $2,000. The motorist will also receive three photos of their vehicle that were captured by the school bus cameras.
“Many drivers don’t realize the safety concerns that come with not stopping for school buses, and that’s something we hope this program will address to make our streets safer for schoolchildren,” Watson said in a press release.
The program was launched after a two-month pilot project in 2016, that saw an average of five drivers a day illegally pass school buses.
Bus driver Justin LeBlanc said he’s cautiously optimistic the program will work. He drives one of the two buses that will be equipped with cameras when the program launches on Monday.
“Just yesterday there were six drivers that went by in the afternoon,” he told CTV News Ottawa on Thursday. “You do your best before letting kids out when traffic is stopped, but even stopped there are people going through your lights.”