Drivers ignoring flashing lights
Cumberland City Councillor Stephen Blais is calling on the Ontario government to allow for cameras that would photograph the license plates of motorists who ignore flashing school bus lights when picking-up or dropping-off children. The recorded data would automatically be transmitted to the appropriate enforcement agency for recourse and is similar to a red light camera.
“Disturbingly, there is an increasing number of motorists that bypass stopped school buses that have their stop arms extended,” says Councillor Blais. “This illegal traffic activity, which imperils the lives of children, has become a serious concern to the Ottawa community.”
During a two day blitz in January, Ottawa police conducted school zone enforcement distributing 211 tickets.
“There’s an epidemic of vehicles driving through the red warning signals from school buses in the Ottawa area,” says Kathleen Both, owner, M.L. Bradley bus lines. “I applaud Councillor Blais for working to improve the safety of our most precious and vulnerable cargo.
School bus stop arm cameras are currently in use in the Northern Lights School Division in north-eastern Alberta; as well as school districts in Kelowna, B.C., and Manitoba. This mechanism is also prevalent throughout the United States.
“When Councillor Blais and I were serving together as trustees, we led a number of initiatives to educate kids on the safety of riding school buses,” says John Shea, Ottawa Public School Board Trustee. “Those callous drivers who don’t have the patience to momentarily wait behind the bus should be severely penalized.”
First offenders can be fined $400 to $2,000 and receive six demerit points. A second conviction within five years yields a fine of $1,000 to $4,000, six demerit points, and up to six months in jail.