Ottawa Police are adding a new tool to catch distracted drivers.

For the first time Monday, police rode a school bus on the lookout for drivers using their cell phones.

 “Our attention is drawn because their head is down,” says Const. Jon Hall. “The challenge when we are in our cruiser is that we are lower, and you are trying to drive, listen to radio and at same time make observations.”

The school bus gives officers a high vantage point in order to see inside nearby vehicles. It also allows drivers to blend in with other vehicles on the road.

Police work as a team, one officer on lookout, others collecting data and evidence. The information is relayed to nearby officers on the road.

Penalties for distracted driving are a $490 fine, plus 3 demerit points. In January the fees will go up to $1,000 plus a 3-day license suspension.

I think it is going to really hurt once these drivers’ license suspensions come into place. Then their insurance is going to be aware of these suspensions and then their premium will go up,” says Sgt. Ed Yeoumans.

Monday’s enforcement resulted in 36 distracted driving tickets.