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School bus cameras nabbing bad drivers

By: Dave Baxter

Posted: 04/20/2018 10:00 AM

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Hanover School Division director of transportation Robert Warkentin stands next to one of the 52 division school buses that now have a camera system installed to catch drivers who are not stopping when buses have their stop sign out and red lights flashing.

DAVE BAXTER | THE CARILLON Enlarge Image

Hanover School Division director of transportation Robert Warkentin stands next to one of the 52 division school buses that now have a camera system installed to catch drivers who are not stopping when buses have their stop sign out and red lights flashing.

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About one year after the very first cameras were installed on Hanover School Division buses, the division’s camera program has now busted dozens of drivers for not following the rules when it comes to when they can and can’t pass school buses.

According to Hanover director of transportation Robert Warkentin, it was approximately one year ago when five HSD buses were installed with cameras intended to catch drivers not stopping when the buses’ red lights were flashing and stop signs were out.

As of this month, 52 of the division’s 86 school buses now have the cameras installed. Each bus has a total of five cameras installed on the inside and outside of the vehicles.

Warkentin added some of their incidents through the program are reported to Steinbach RCMP, while others are reported to St Pierre RCMP, but in total they have sent in 49 different incidents since the program began.

"We’re very happy with the results we are getting," Warkentin said. "The cameras are working, and the big picture is that this is working well."

Before the camera program was put into effect, bus drivers could manually write down the license plates of drivers passing buses when they weren’t supposed to, but Warkentin said that was a far more difficult way to do it, and led to less reporting.

"Traditionally we’d get fairly regular reports of drivers running through our stop signs, while we were unloading children, but they were submitting through license plate numbers," Warkentin said. "But drivers are busy enough watching the kids and seeing where they are at, so to catch six digits of a license plate going by, and get all the details of what happened is pretty difficult."

According to Steinbach RCMP Staff Sgt. Harold Laninga, the detachment has issued 29 tickets as a result of the program.

He added anyone convicted of passing a bus when red lights are flashing faces a fine of $672, and two demerits on their license.

"In the past we had evidence the offense has occurred, but it was hard to determine what exactly had occurred," Laninga said.

"But with the system we now have five different cameras, it’s very impressive. Now with the complaint we get a DVD copy of the video that shows us five different angles of what happened at the same time and the license plate number. It’s now very strong evidence and something we have never had before, so it makes our jobs much easier."

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