School bus camera to catch reckless drivers in Ottawa
Ottawa police pilot project targets drivers who run bus stop signs, endanger children
A pilot project targeting Ottawa drivers who run school bus stop signs starts this month, as police focus on what they call a major pet peeve.
The transportation committee at Ottawa City Hall heard a report from police on Wednesday. It explained the project would feature a single camera on a school bus that runs in the east Ottawa community of Orleans.
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The camera, which costs between $1,200 and $1,500, will film drivers during May and June from a side mirror only when the bus is on the road.
Police said it’s an issue raised by drivers who said they see others failing to stop when school buses stop to pick up or drop off children. Police also called the issue a “big pet peeve.”
Money needed to pay for camera
Police said they are looking for a sponsor, such as an insurance company, to help pay for the camera and any more cameras added to the project.
Coun. Marianne Wilkinson, who represents the riding of Kanata North, said she’d help find a sponsor for the project, which she strongly supports.
Wilkinson also said she wants more cameras installed on buses in time for the new school year in September. She offered to spend some of her own office budget on cameras, but rules won’t allow it.
School boards in P.E.I., Alberta and Manitoba all have cameras on school buses, but Ontario school boards have not jumped on this idea.
Ministry concerned about admissibility
The Ministry of Transportation told CBC News in an email that while the Highway Traffic Act does not prohibit the use of school bus cameras, live witness are generally required in court to present video evidence.
"A number of issues around admissibility and reliability of video evidence in court from equipment owned, operated and maintained by private sector operators would have to be addressed before this proposal could be considered," the statement said.
"There could be considerable cost to school bus operators and privacy considerations under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.
"The government would have a concern with people being prosecuted unless the evidence collection mechanism was completely reliable."
The ministry confirmed that it received a request from an Ottawa councillor to amend the Highway Traffic Act in early 2014 to allow school bus cameras to be used as a "traffic enforcement mechanism."
However, it said that ministry staff were not aware of the pilot project at the time and have not, to date, had any discussions with the City of Ottawa about it.