Thunder Bay

Thunder Bay police turn to camera to catch drivers who ignore school bus safety

Thunder Bay police hope a camera will help with the prosecution of drivers who ignore school bus safety in the city.

Camera mounted on bus aims to capture video of drivers who ignore safety lights

A GoPro camera has been mounted on a Thunder Bay school bus to help catch drivers who pass while its red safety lights are flashing. (Cathy Alex/CBC)

Thunder Bay police hope a camera will help with the prosecution of drivers who ignore school bus safety in the city.

The local department has mounted a GoPro camera on a school bus, with the intent of capturing video of drivers who pass by the bus while it's stopped with its red safety lights flashing.

"We were getting a number of complaints from school bus drivers when they're stopping with their lights on and people are still driving through," said Thunder Bay police acting traffic Sgt. John Toneguzzi.

Ontario law states that drivers travelling in both directions on a road without a median must stop for a school bus with its upper red light flashing.

Drivers may continue when the lights have stopped flashing or the bus begins to move.

Those who don't stop can be charged and fined, and receive demerit points. Toneguzzi pointed out that the vehicle's owner can be charged if the driver can't be identified.

"Sometimes you'll get the owner saying 'well, I don't know who was driving my vehicle,'" he said. "We just issue the provincial offence notice to the owner."

If a road has a median, drivers coming from the opposite direction as the bus don't have to stop.

Toneguzzi said when they are concerned about a route, police would normally have an officer in an unmarked vehicle following school buses. If the officer spots a motorist driving past a school bus with lights flashing, they'd pull the driver over.

The officer would then be required to testify in court and provide details on what happened.

In that sense, he said, video is a big asset.

"It captures everything," Toneguzzi said. "It captures the roadway conditions."

"It does show the lights are on and working properly, and it does show the bus itself is stopped."

​In addition, the camera's resolution is high enough that it picks up licence plate numbers, he said.

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