School division puts cameras in buses

Cameras inside the bus watch students while cameras outside the bus will capture any violating vehicles.
Cameras inside the bus watch students while cameras outside the bus will capture any violating vehicles.
Drivers be aware: you are being filmed

Joe McWilliams
For Spotlight

A warning went out last week to drivers that if they blow by school buses when their red lights are flashing, they’ll be caught on camera.

It’s a new measure of the High Prairie School Division, aimed at curbing a persistent and dangerous problem.

Everybody knows what the risks are. Kids getting on and off school buses must be protected.

Drivers must stop for loading and unloading school buses, and thanks to the flashing red lights and swing-out stop signs, they don’t have to guess when it’s safe to proceed.

But every year, bus drivers have stories to tell about drivers who completely ignore those signals, dashing by and endangering young lives.

“Last year we had 44 violations reported,” says HPSD Director of Transportation Harry Davis. “Nine more than the previous year. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.”

There have been convictions; but it’s hard for the drivers to get license numbers.

That’s why the HPSD has followed the lead of other school divisions and shelled out for the cameras.

Now, when a bus stops and the driver activates the lights, the cameras start rolling. Violators’ plates will be recorded, and their owners will be getting something in the mail

Fines for such offenses can be “maximum $543,” says Davis, “and six demerit points.”

Davis says installation of the equipment is about 70 per cent complete across the fleet of 50 buses – or was as of the day before school started last week.

Each bus gets five cameras – two outside on the swinging stop sign and three inside the bus. If that sounds like the purpose is broader than catching bad drivers, it’s because it is. The interior trio of cameras is for what Davis calls “student management.” One camera looks at the entrance door and the other two survey the interior.

Davis says it’s about ensuring the safety of the students and of the driver.

Purchasing all that equipment, fleet-wide, cost the school division about $200,000, and that’s not including installation.
“We have our own techs,” Davis says.

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