News / Canada

Winnipeg invention catching drivers not stopping for school buses

The Winnipeg-based inventor of a camera used to catch drivers illegally passing school buses says motorists in his home province are among the country’s worst offenders.

For the last four-and-a-half weeks Teknisult, the local company behind the camera, has had 10 cameras installed on buses in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta for a pilot project watching driver behaviour around school buses with their stop signs activated.

Teknisult president Maurice Gregoire said cameras in Winnipeg have caught the vast majority of infractions.

“In Winnipeg we’re seeing on average five violations per bus, per week,” he said. “In the other provinces—Alberta and Saskatchewan combined—they’re coming in at an average of 1.8 violations per bus, per week. So it’s considerably less.”

Gregoire said the hardest part of the project has been watching clips like one caught in Winnipeg last week where a student was nearly hit by a vehicle that didn’t stop.

“The first thing that goes through your head is ‘I don’t want to be watching the video where a kid gets hit.’”

Drivers convicted of illegally passing a school bus in Manitoba face a fine of $673.65 and automatically get two demerits points tacked on to their licence.

“It’s an expensive fine and I would suggest that reflects the seriousness of the offence,” said Patrol Sgt. Damian Turner of Winnipeg police’s Central Traffic Unit.

Turner said Winnipeg police have doled out 17 tickets for illegally passing a school bus so far this year, down slightly from the 20 given out last year.

While Teknisult’s camera isn’t currently part of the province’s photo enforcement legislation—meaning a picture of a violator alone isn’t enough to convict an offender—Turner said shots taken by the device can be valuable evidence when combined with a statement from witnesses like bus drivers or parents.