School board trustee wants cameras on school bus arms to improve safety
KITCHENER -- A trustee with the Waterloo Region District School Board is pushing to install cameras on school bus arms.
The cameras would record drivers who don't stop when the arms and lights are activated due to students crossing.
Crystal Whetham, a trustee for Cambridge and North Dumfries, had tears in her eyes talking about drivers speeding past school buses with their arms down while children crossed the street.
"People don't stop, they just fly past the school bus with the lights flashing and the arms down," she said.
She put forward a motion last week to write to local mayors and regional council.
"There's close calls every day," Whetham said.
She wants local municipalities to advocate the province to speed up installing stop-arm cameras.
School bus driver Brad LaFlamme said the problem keeps getting worse.
"It's been a problem since day one when I first started," he said. "Last week it happened to me eight times in six days."
LaFlamme said the close calls are terrifying.
"I hope that people listen and slow down," he said. "There's going to be an accident and somebody could get killed."
Police said the traffic infraction comes with a $490 ticket.
"We have had nine incidents reported to our bus watch program since January 1 this year and five charges have been laid," Staff Sgt. Scott Griffiths with the Waterloo Regional Police Service said.
"We are certainly in support of having cameras on buses, but the project on its way is a very complex problem," said Benoit Bourgault with Student Transportation Services in Waterloo Region.
Whetham said she hopes the region moves quickly to have the cameras in place by the end of the year.
In 2016, the board of trustees agreed to send a letter to the region supporting installation of stop-arm cameras. A pilot project at the time revealed 97 vehicles passed a bus while the stop arm was extended in 23 days.
"We need the region to be on board with the police force and to have a process," Bourgault said.
Bourgault said they're still working on the process, like how the cameras will be funded.