Monday, February 01, 2010

School Bus Stop Arm Cameras Sought by Winnipeg Schools

A Manitoba school division is pressing ahead with a plan to ask the provincial government to allow photo enforcement cameras to be used to catch drivers who blow by school bus stop signs.
Ken Krulicki, transportation supervisor with the Stonewall-based Interlake School Division, said he is currently working to gather some information requested by the province — including statistics on the number of “drive-bys” and a privacy assessment of the camera’s capabilities — and expects to present it to the government this spring.
The division will also make a formal request to allow the cameras to produce tickets that come with a $619 fine.
“It could be a devastating situation if there’s a drive-by when a student is walking across a road,” Krulicki said. “If we can stop people from driving by the buses, then it’s one less thing we have to be worried about.”
The ISD already ran a pilot program last spring in which a camera was mounted on the stop sign that swings out from the side of a bus and tested the system on a bus in the Balmoral area from mid-May until the end of the school year.
The camera was designed and installed by Winnipeg-based CVC Mobile, the same company that has installed security cameras inside several Manitoba school buses. The division has also been in discussions with ACS Public Sector Solutions, which manages the red light cameras and mobile photo radar in Winnipeg, about managing the program.
Krulicki detailed the process and his hopes for it in a letter to the government in October and got a reply in December requesting that he prepare a report discussing the privacy implications of using the cameras, gather information about the suspected number of drive-bys in the province, and come back with that information and the blessing of transportation departments from other school divisions.
Krulicki and others are now compiling the information, and he hopes to garner support for the initiative at the Manitoba Association of School Business Officials transportation conference in Brandon on Feb. 11 and 12. He expects to get it.
“I did a brief presentation at the last meeting we had and everyone was supportive of it,” Krulicki said.
The goal is to have government approval to have the cameras in place by the start of the next school year.
The provincial Highway Traffic Act would need to be amended to allow the cameras to be used to issue tickets, as school bus drive-bys are not currently listed as a photo enforceable offence.
A spokesman for Transportation Minister Steve Ashton said he’s unsure what other changes or departmental approvals would be needed to implement the plan until the government receives more details in a formal proposal.
He said the government can’t determine whether it’s supportive until it sees exactly what is being proposed.