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December 12, 2014

Queen’s Park – Chatham-Kent-Essex MPP Rick Nicholls is thrilled that his private members bill that targets drivers who illegally pass school buses stopped with their red warning lights flashing and endanger children has passed Second Reading.

“Over the summer school bus operators approached me with a serious problem related to the safety of our children/grandchildren. Each and every day, many drivers speed past stopped school buses whose red lights are flashing as they pick up children. The school bus operators call these incidents ‘blow bys,’” Nicholls explained.

It is currently against the law to pass school buses with deployed stop signs and stop arms, yet the majority of cases go unreported as bus operators are unrealistically expected to grab a vehicle description as cars blow by.

“A number of school bus drivers have told me how hard it is for them to look after children entering or exiting the bus and also memorize a license plate of a speeding car. They are also very concerned that children will be hurt if nothing is done,” Nicholls stated.

In the Independent School Bus Operators Association’s first attempt to benchmark provincial stop violations earlier this year, a total of 754 incidents were reported over only five days.

Communities around the province have started to crack down on these incidents. Ottawa and Toronto have started pilot projects to install camera systems on school buses to catch drivers that are running the stop arm.

A City of Ottawa councillor and police have asked that the Highway Traffic Act be amended so photos of vehicles obtained from school bus camera systems can be admissible to courts, just like red light cameras.

“That’s exactly what my bill seeks to do. It’s a safety issue, not a partisan issue. If drivers are caught putting children at risk they should be brought to justice,” Nicholls said.