‘A huge step forward’: Mattawa school buses to be equipped with stop-arm cameras
NORTH BAY -- Almost 21 years ago, five-year-old Adam Ranger was killed when a truck didn’t stop for his stopped school bus. His brother, Pierre, has been working through the Let’s Remember Adam Campaign advocating for stop-arm cameras on school buses.
Today, all 19 of the school buses that operate in Mattawa are equipped with the new tool to nab drivers who illegally pass.
“The buses are going to be night and day difference in terms of safety,” said Pierre Ranger, Let’s Remember Adam campaign spokesperson. “Anytime there’s an incident, the cameras will do all of the work.”
BusPatrol, a safety technology company, partnered with Mattawa town council to install the cameras on school buses, making it the first Canadian municipality to launch the program.
Regulations written by the province and the Ministry of Transportation last year now let the individual municipalities choose whether they want cameras installed, Ranger said.
'Program is working'
“Across our client base, the program ranges from 94-98% of people who get a ticket don’t get a second one,” said BusPatrol CEO Jean Souliere. "That shows us that the program is working."
The cameras are already installed on buses in several U.S. states. The violator-funded program will not cost any money to the town, the bus company or the student transportation services. A first-time fine for passing a stopped school bus ranges from $400-$2,000.
“We expect between now and September to have close to 5,000 buses equipped with our technology to protect kids and make the roads safer,” said Souliere.
The cameras use artificial intelligence (AI) and are installed on the side of the bus as well as on the rear, windshield and rear-view mirror. They can monitor up to eight lanes of traffic.
The AI can track things like the GPS coordinates, the license plate and when the stop arm and red lights flash, building a case for investigating police officers.
It’s a bittersweet day for the Ranger family; the launch of the program comes on the anniversary of what would have been Adam’s 26th birthday. However, Pierre said it’s the first step in improving bus safety for kids and drivers.
“This is a huge step forward for Let’s Remember Adam, my family and the town of Mattawa,” said Ranger. “We’re finally seeing some change.”
The ultimate goal is to have BusPatrol equipped on school buses across the country. There is a plan in the works to install the cameras and programs on school buses in the Peel Region.