Montreal

Quebec drivers play 'Russian roulette,' driving past school buses illegally 30,000 times a day, study finds

Bus Patrol analyzed 10,000 video sequences collected from 13 school buses mounted with surveillance equipment and found a school bus in Quebec is illegally passed by a driver nearly four times daily.

Bus Patrol analyzed 10,000 video sequences collected from 13 school buses over 45 days this spring

Bus drivers say they are used to other road users not respecting their signs. (Radio-Canada)

In Quebec, a school bus is illegally passed by a driver an average of 3.8 times per day — something Robert Rego, the vice-president of Bus Patrol, calls "a game of Russian roulette."

With more than 8,000 buses on the road in Quebec, Rego says, that works out to more than 30,000 infractions a day.

In February, Quebec Transport Minister André Fortin announced the pilot project to place cameras on 13 school buses in eight cities across the province to collect data on driving behaviour over 45 days, beginning in mid-March.

"We analyzed more than 10,000 video sequences and saw behaviours that range from ignorance of the rules to extremely dangerous," Rego says.

Robert Rego, vice-president of Bus Patrol, thinks drivers are ignoring buses' stop-arms because they are distracted. (CBC)

He blames drivers being distracted as the main reason the stop sign on the hinged arm of school buses is ignored by drivers.

Pointe-Claire bus driver Michel Martin said he has to watch his mirrors carefully when letting children out.

"On a regular day, we can't trust that drivers will stop at our stops. We see it regularly. They don't respect them," Martin said.

A Quebec survey of stop-arm violations found more than 30,000 infractions were happening per day.

3 years ago
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A school bus is illegally passed by a driver an average of 3.8 times per day – something the vice president of the organization that conducted the survey calls “a game of Russian Roulette.” 0:56

'Hot potato' report

Rego said that while Fortin's office and the Transport Ministry were co-operative during the pilot project, as soon as his organization handed in its report, it seemed as if the government was treating it like a "hot potato."

The Transport Ministry has passed the report on to a committee formed of the provincial police chiefs association, the automobile insurance board and the provincial school board federation.

That group is expected to make recommendations in the next few months.

When the pilot project was announced, Fortin had said the government would consider a more permanent program once the data gathered by the cameras was assessed.

Bus Patrol cameras are on 4,000 school buses in six states across the U.S.

Rego said that the first year the cameras were in service, there was a 35 per cent drop in the number of infractions in those states.

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