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'Hope we collect no money from this program:' City of Ottawa unveils new school bus cameras

"It takes 15 seconds [to stop for a school bus]; that 15 seconds isn't going to change your life in any meaningful way," said Cumberland Ward Councillor Stephen Blais.
2019-05-23 school bus camera
New camera attached to an Ottawa school bus in order to catch drivers who pass when the bus is stopped. Jason White/

The long arm of the law just got a bit longer, thanks to new permanent, automated camera systems to catch drivers who don't stop when a school bus is halted with its lights flashing. 

A pilot project back in 2016, championed by Cumberland Ward Councillor Stephen Blais, saw cameras mounted on the exteriors of school buses in Ottawa. The test run was incredibly successful; during the final two months of the project, police were catching an average of five drivers per day. 

"I hope that we collect absolutely no money from this program," said Blais. "Because that means everyone is stopping for a stopped school bus." 

Sensors can tell when the school bus has its stop arm out and a vehicle drives past anyway. Cameras will send a short video to a secure server. 

"It shows, clearly, people going through the stop sign and then the vehicle going through, from several different angles," said Interim Police Chief Steve Bell. "It's really hard to dispute." 

A police officer reviews the footage before a ticket is mailed out to the vehicle owner, complete with $490 fine.  

The hope is that the cameras will catch drivers who dont stop for school buses, and encourage more drivers to be vigilant about stopping. 

"It takes 15 seconds [to stop for a school bus]; that 15 seconds isn't going to change your life in any meaningful way," said Blais. "Hitting a child is going to change a lot of lives, in a very meaningful way." 

This is the first time automated camera systems have been used to issue this type of ticket in Ontario.

Jason White

About the Author: Jason White

Jason is an award-winning reporter at CityNews Ottawa. He brings about two decades of experience in news, with stops in Halifax and Toronto.
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