7 p.m., May 1)
bus camera nabs first offender in less than a week
By Fred Sherwin
pilot project aimed at nabbing area school bus runners
in the act caught its first offender on camera early this
week, less than seven days after the device was installed.
to ML Bradley owner Kathleen Both, the driver in question
was videotaped using a camera mounted on the side of one
of their buses.
camera has barely been on the bus three days and we've
already recorded someone driving through the flashing
lights," said Both, who has been a vocal advocate
for increased enforcement of the law governing the requirement
to stop on both sides of the road when approaching a school
bus with its lights flashing and stop sign extended.
the fact that breaking the law can cost up to $2,000 and
six demerit points, an increasing number of drivers have
been ignoring the flashing lights and extended stop sign
in and around Orléans. On some routes, specifically
in Fallingbrook and Chapel Hill, parents have taken it
upon themselves to physically step out into the middle
of the road and stop the traffic while their kids get
on and off the bus.
biggest hurdle in trying to enforce the law is that the
driver has to be positively ID'd in order for them to
be charged. By the time most offenders drive past the
bus the driver can't see their faces. The police used
occasional blitzes to try and address the problem, but
the result is only temporary and usually only as long
as the police are on the scene.
only way to effectively enforce the law, according to
Both and others, is through the use of video cameras attached
to the buses. While they may not be able to ID the driver
they can record the infraction as well as the license
plate number much the same way as red light cameras do.
pilot project is an extension of the "I Stop, You
Stop" campaign that was launched by the City of Ottawa
in partnership with Safer Roads Ottawa, which includes
the Ottawa paramedics, police and firefighters, and the
camera is constantly running and the bus driver merely
has to touch a button to time-stamp when an offense occurs.
Because of the angle of the camera it can't be used to
identify the driver, but it can record the make, model
and license plate of the vehicle.
Ward Coun. Stephen Blais has been at the forefront in
pushing for a crackdown on school bus running. He believes
it won't take long for the pilot project to prove that
there is a real need for the devices.
first step is to try and educate drivers about the need
to pay attention when they are approaching a school bus
and the tragic consequences that can result if they decide
to ignore the flashing lights and stop sign," says
Blais. "But if they break the law they're going to
get caught and they're going to get fined."
and Blais are both confident the one camera being used
in the pilot project will clearly demonstrate the need
for others. The question then will be, who will pay for
them. Blais believes that the business community, and
especially larger corporations, could be approached to
help sponsor the cameras as a service to the community.
possibility is that the cameras could pay for themselves,
especially at the rate drivers have been ignoring the
story was made possible thanks to their generous support
of our local business partners.)
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