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School bus cameras catch drivers ignoring stop sign

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It seems Brandon drivers are having a hard time with a simple four-letter word.

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This article was published 29/11/2014 (2929 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

It seems Brandon drivers are having a hard time with a simple four-letter word.

S-T-O-P.

Footage captured from school bus-mounted cameras showed 10 vehicles that blew past the bus while its stop-arm was out in the first five days after they were installed earlier this month, according to Brandon School Division board chairman Mark Sefton.

Colin Corneau/Brandon Sun School buses stop to let children get on board, Friday afternoon at Neelin high school.

The cameras are only installed on one BSD bus while the division tests out the technology during a 90-day pilot project.

The cameras — two on the stop arm and one on top of the bus facing forward — were installed free for the trial by Winnipeg-based Teknisult Enterprises Ltd., which takes the high definition footage, analyses it and sends results back to the division and forwarded to the police.

BSD received the first batch of results Thursday, showing the 10 scofflaws.

Several of the infractions, Sefton said, happened outside loading zones.

The testing bus is on a route that includes Kirkcaldy Heights School, King George School and École Harrison and it was chosen because a driver approached the division saying there are several violations on that route.

The high number of law-breaking drivers caught on camera comes as a shock to both Sefton and the Brandon Police Service.

According to BPS Const. Trevor Robins, the division typically forwards between 12 and 18 such infractions to police in a year, so bus-mounted cameras could mean that number will drastically increase.

If police can identify the driver through an investigation, then charges can be laid, but it wouldn’t be automatic like red-light cameras in larger cities.

“I think it’s a positive,” Robins said. “This is just another way to ensure the safety of the kids out there.”

Passing a stopped school bus ticket is $673.65.

“People are going to be ticked off, but they only have themselves to blame,” Sefton said. “The stop sign with the red flashing lights, they’re pretty hard to miss … Safety of the kids is more important than saving 40 seconds.

“One of the first things you learn as a new driver is to not pass a stopped school bus.”

Now, the school board will have to hash out whether mounting more cameras will be worth the cash at a rough estimate of $1,000 per bus.

But even if the board were to pull the trigger on the investment, they may only install them on a few buses and rotate the routes, Sefton said.

“It’s too early to make any determination.”

Teknisult has installed surveillance cameras on buses in Manitoba, Alberta and Saskatchewan as part of its pilot project.

» gbruce@brandonsun.com

» Twitter: @grjbruce

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