Liberals not ready to commit to school bus cameras
TORONTO — Ontario legislators are debating the idea of using cameras on school buses to ticket drivers that illegally blow past the vehicles as children get on and off, but the government isn’t ready to commit to the measure without further study.
Local politicians and school bus companies have called on the provincial government to pass legislation that will enable video from cameras mounted on the outside of school buses to be admitted as evidence in court without a witness to back up the footage, as is currently the requirement.
Such a change in law could mean that the owners of vehicles that illegally pass school buses get tickets in the mail after being caught on camera.
But Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca said while the government is supportive of the idea, it isn’t ready to pass legislation on it without further consideration. The government has some concerns about the details of the technology involved and the legislative change it would require, he said.
“We’re going to make sure we get it right,” Del Duca said. “Moving forward with technology that doesn’t actually provide you with the outcome you’re looking for doesn’t make a lot of sense to me.”
A pilot project also tested the technology this spring in Brantford, Mississauga, Sudbury and the Waterloo Region.
It was conducted by a company that makes the cameras, along with municipalities, school boards and police forces in the communities.
The project found drivers illegally passed school buses that stopped to let children on or off — with their lights flashing and stop-arm out — in all those communities.
In rural Brantford, there was one blow-by per bus every three days, but in Mississauga, the problem was the worst — occurring an average of two-and-a-half times per bus per day.
Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie said the province needs to deal with the issue.
“We must take action to reduce these incidences and increase safety for our children,” she said in a statement.
“We cannot wait for serious injury or a fatality before we act.”
Even with video of drivers illegally passing school buses, fines often aren’t laid because the footage can’t be considered evidence in court without a witness. Retired bus driver Leo Heuvelmans said it’s hard for a bus driver to take down the licence plate of a vehicle that whizzes past a school bus while still watching students going and coming from the vehicle.