Parents catching drivers on camera zooming by stopped school buses
Jason Dupuis posts video shot on Hazeldean Rd.
Joanne Schnurr, CTV Ottawa
Published Thursday, October 25, 2018 4:42PM EDT
Parents and school bus drivers in the Ottawa region are fed up with motorists breaking the law. With no cameras on school buses yet, people are capturing their own footage of drivers failing to stop when a school bus does. It's a mistake you don't want to make, not only because passing a stopped school bus, with its lights activated and stop arm out, is clearly dangerous, it carries a hefty fine and runs you the potential of being publicly shamed on somebody's Facebook site.
With our CTV camera clearly present, drivers along Hazeldean Road are all obeying the rules of the road and stopping for the school bus in both directions.
But parents say this isn't the norm here usually for the morning pick-up or the afternoon drop-off.
“Normally we see when the bus stops and they' just keep driving through,” says Tran Whitney, a father of two young kids.
Granted there may be some confusion among drivers about the rules on a road as wide as Hazeldean. But the law is clear on this:
Hazeldean has 4 lanes of traffic and a turning lane. When a school bus comes to a stop, traffic in all directions must stop as well. If there is a raised median in the middle, the cars behind the bus have to stop but the oncoming vehicles can go by.
“We've ticketed a number of people for going by a school bus even though the school bus is 3 or 4 lanes away,” says Sergeant Mark Gatien with the Ottawa Police Traffic Enforcement Unit.
And the fines are steep: $490 and 6 demerit points. But school bus driver Olivia Salvatori-Swant says that's not working and neither is new signage the city installed on Hazeldean a few weeks ago.
“Since September, I’ve had over 200 vehicles pass my bus while I’ve been stopped and red lights flashing,” she says, “I've lost track but I have been counting.”
So has Jason Dupuis, a father of two young children who has videotaped vehicles that weren’t stopping and posted the footage to social media.
“I don’t' know if they're unaware,” says Dupuis, “or they can't see the bus or don’t' know the law but it's unacceptable.”
This has long been an issue for school bus drivers across this region. A few years ago, the city’s Safer Roads Ottawa program together with the Ottawa Police and a local school bus company implemented a pilot project, putting cameras on board school buses to try to catch drivers breaking the rules. But that project has gone no further than the test phase
M.L. Bradley was the company handling that pilot project. 75 drivers were charged during that 3 month test period.
“We're still waiting for approval to put these cameras on the exterior of our buses,” says Andrew Bradley, with M.L. Bradley.
The police say the project is stuck in red tape for the moment, with a lot more paperwork involved than anticipated.
“Right now it's in the hands of the privacy commissioner,” says Sergeant Gatien.
Putting cameras, then, back in the hands of parents like Jason Dupuis, with the aim of shaming drivers to save lives.