Northern Lights pushing province to make cameras on buses mandatory

The Northern Lights Public School division’s motion to make cameras on buses mandatory, in hopes of catching drivers who pass stopped school buses is gaining major traction province-wide.

The motion was brought to the Alberta School Board Association’s fall assembly and was supported by over 90 per cent of the school boards in attendance.

The motion requests the province make cameras mandatory on every school bus and put aside funding for them as well.

“The director of transportation reports routinely to the board and we wanted to garner the support of our provincial colleagues,” said NLPS chair Arlene Hrynyk.

“We’re pleased to see that and continue to lobby the government for them to see the issue as we do. We can’t afford to lose a child because of someone blowing through the flashing red lights.”

The problem of fly-bys has been growing.

Since September, there was already a route that had six fly-bys reported, and over the course of the year they’ve had 101 reported, said NLPS communications Nicole Garner.

“It’s been a problem in our urban centres, Bonnyville, Cold Lake, Lac la Biche, and in rural areas…it all creates a dangerous situation for everyone involved. But we’ve even had drivers passing buses on the right hand side,” she said.

“Think about that. You’ve got kids coming on or off a bus which they exit to the right hand side, and you’ve got someone who’s so impatient that they’re passing on the same side where the kids are getting off the bus,” said Garner.

Northern Lights has already tried to take external measures to catch offenders and get their license plates by outfitting some of their buses with cameras already, said Hrynyk.

But since there’s a significant cost and the school board runs a deficit in transportation, they will lobby the provincial government for the funding.

“We’re one of many school divisions that have had to do this, so that’s why we said perhaps the government could explore creative opportunities from the collection of infractions, fines, etc. And reinvest them to cameras on buses across the province.”

They say the money collected from the $543 fine of passing a school bus with flashing lights could help subsidize the cameras, which Northern Lights says cost them roughly $1500 to get.

“Our job is to advocate. Unfortunately, we’re not the decision makers but we have to communicate the realities of the challenges we’re facing. And this is not limited to Northern Lights – this is a provincial issue,” said Hrynyk.