City officially unveils new school bus stop-arm camera project
The camera will capture footage of drivers who pass by when the arm is out. (file photo)
The City of Ottawa has officially unveiled a new project aimed at catching drivers who illegally pass school buses while lights are flashing and the stop arm is extended.
Mayor Jim Watson, Transportation Committee Chair Coun. Stephen Blais, and representatives from the Ottawa Police, Safer Roads Ottawa, and the Consortium transport scolaire d’Ottawa (CTSO) announced the launch of the stop-arm camera program Thursday morning.
It will be a fully automated system–the first of its kind in Ontario. It includes four cameras that are mounted on the outside of the bus that will capture footage of drivers who pass by when the arm is out.
Ottawa Police say if the system detects a vehicle passing the bus when it is fully stopped, it will send a short video to a secure server, where officers will access and review the footage to determine if charges need to be laid.
The system uses sensors to detect when the bus is stopped, its lights are flashing, and the stop-arm is out.
The City says, during the final two months of the pilot project in 2016, the camera caught an average of five vehicles passing the stopped school bus every day.
“Many drivers don’t realize the safety concerns that come with not stopping for school buses, and that’s something we hope this program will address to make our streets safer for schoolchildren," Mayor Jim Watson said in an Ottawa Police press release.
Privacy measures are built into the system. Faces and other personally identifying information will be blurred, only sworn Ottawa Police officers will be able to access the footage, and the cameras are tamper-resistant.
According to the MTO, illegally passing a school bus carries a fine of between $400 and $2,000 and six demerit points for a first offense.
Ottawa Police say the registered owners of a vehicle caught by this system will be mailed a Provincial Offence Notice with a fine amount of $490. No demerit points will be associated with this violation.