Ottawa launches school bus cameras to increase road safety for school children

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School Bus Camera

This morning, Mayor Jim Watson, Councillor Stephen Blais, Chair of the City’s Transportation Committee, along with representatives from the Ottawa Police Service (OPS), Safer Roads Ottawa and the Consortium de transport scolaire d’Ottawa (CTSO), launched the permanent school bus stop-arm camera program. 

The School Bus Stop-Arm Violation Solution is a technology that allows Ottawa Police to issue Provincial Offence Notices by using video footage of motorists passing stopped school buses. The system includes four cameras installed on the exterior of the bus and a hardware box on the interior of the bus. 

“The intricate camera system will use a variety of sensors to identify when the school bus is completely stopped, the stop-arm is fully extended, and the lights are flashing,” said Mayor Jim Watson. “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.” 

If the system detects a vehicle passing the bus when it is fully stopped, it will send a short video to a secure server, where members of the Ottawa Police Traffic Enforcement Services will access and review the footage to determine if charges need to be laid. 

“During the last two months of the 2016 pilot program, the camera system detected an average of five motorists passing the stopped school bus every day,” said Councillor Stephen Blais. “We want to ensure drivers are attentive and focused on safety every time they are behind the wheel, and especially when driving in proximity to school buses.” 

There are a number of measures in place to protect the public’s privacy, including blurring all images of faces or other personal information, only allowing sworn officers of the Ottawa Police to have access to the footage, and using tamper-resistant hardware casings on the buses. 

All vehicles must stop when a school bus has come to a complete stop, with the stop-arm extended and the lights flashing. This includes both directions of traffic in every lane, with the exception of divided roadways, in which case the traffic moving in the opposite direction of the bus does not need to stop. 

The registered owners of the vehicle will be mailed a Provincial Offence Notice with a fine amount of $490,00. No demerit points will be associated with this violation. 

The Safer Roads Ottawa Program is a leading community partnership between Ottawa Fire Services, Ottawa Paramedic Service, Ottawa Police Service, Ottawa Public Health and the Transportation Services Department committed to preventing or eliminating road deaths and serious injuries for all residents in the City of Ottawa through culture change, community engagement, and development of a sustainable safe transportation environment.