Although Brandon School Division supports the idea of mounting traffic cameras onto school buses, it won’t be happening this school year.
“Anything that’s going to make things safer for our students, we’re in support of that,” school board chair Mark Sefton said. “This is not going to be in place this school year. There’s just too many hoops to jump through yet.”
At the annual Manitoba School Boards Association convention in Winnipeg in March, trustees passed a motion to lobby the government to put cameras on school buses. Trustees requested cameras be placed on the exterior of buses to catch drivers who refrain from stopping when a bus driver flashes the red stop sign.
The resolution stated that the Manitoba School Boards Association would lobby the province to consider implementing the use of exterior mounted cameras on school buses as well as provide funding for related costs.
“There’s a huge, huge safety issue with people driving past school buses, even when their flashing red lights are on and the stop sign is sticking out,” Sefton said in an earlier interview with the Sun. “That’s such a scary proposition thinking that some student someday is going to get run over because some totally irresponsible driver drove through a stop signal.”
Before buses can be equipped with exterior cameras in Brandon, the province will have to pass legislation, Sefton said. Changes would have to be made to the Highway Traffic Act so drivers caught on bus-mounted cameras could be ticketed through the photo-enforcement program.
“In this particular case with the school buses ... it would be the province that does or does not enact legislation and then we would go from there,” Sefton said.
A provincial spokesperson said via email on Monday that no final decision has been made.
Cameras on buses would also help capture drivers in rural areas, Sefton said.
“In rural areas where there are people that are driving by school buses that are on the side of the road with their lights flashing and the sign out ... it would provide documentation for those who are floating that law.”
There’s also the question of who would cover the cost of the cameras, Sefton said.
“Would that have to come from existing funding? There’s still a lot of details to be worked out.”
About 100 motorists are ticketed yearly in Manitoba for ignoring school bus signals, according to Manitoba Public Insurance. Offending drivers receive a $673 ticket and two demerits applied to their driver safety rating.
As soon as a bus driver turns on the flashing red lights, drivers coming from both directions must stop at least five metres from the bus and remain stopped until the lights stop flashing, the stop arm folds back in and the bus begins to move.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition October 8, 2013