Footage from school bus cameras may soon be all that’s needed to prosecute drivers who pass stopped school vehicles in Ontario.
Transportation Minister Jeff Yurek says the regulatory changes will mean an additional witness is no longer required in order to use the camera footage in court.
“You no longer have to have the driver going to court and taking a day off work to go testify that so-and-so blew by the bus,” he said.
Yurek says that currently if a school bus driver can’t take a day off work to testify against a driver the camera footage is inadmissible in court.
The government will also introduce a law which, if passed, would permit municipalities to add additional fines to drivers who break the law and pass a stopped school bus.
Yurek added that the cost for the cameras would have no impact on taxpayers and would instead be paid for by bus operators. Proceeds from fines issued would also go towards the municipality where the infraction occurred.
“They could actually… utilize the proceeds from collecting these fines and ensure that all buses have these cameras on-board.”
Rob Murphy, vice-president of Murphy Bus Lines, told 980 CFPL that it’s a cost he’s more than willing to pay.
“You can never put a price on safety.”
The current process for recording vehicles that pass a stopped school bus requires the bus driver to manually write down the license plate of the passing vehicle.
Murphy added that having on-board cameras would free up bus drivers to focus on other tasks.
“Their main concern is making sure those kids get to and from school safely,” he said.
Currently, drivers who pass a stopped school bus can be charged, face a fine of up to $2,000 and receive six demerit points for a first offence.
Each subsequent offence can lead to a driver being fined up to $4,000, an additional six demerit points, and up to six months in jail.
—With files from the Canadian Press