Ontario Announces Measures to Increase School Bus Safety
April 25th 2019 5:00pm
TORONTO - Today, Jeff Yurek, Minister of Transportation was joined by Sam Oosterhoff, Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Education to announce new measures to give municipalities the tools they need to target drivers who threaten the safety of children crossing roads to their school or home.
Read full announcment from the Ministry of Transportation here
A letter from Ontario Minister of Transportation, the Honourable John Yakabuski
Thank you for the Town of Newmarket's letter regarding school bus cameras. I appreciate the opportunity to respond.
The safety of occupants in all vehicle types is a priority for my ministry - especially the safety of children travelling in school buses. I want to assure you that school buses are among the safest ways for children to travel. Research shows that riding on a school bus is 16 times safer than travelling in the family car. That being said, my ministry is constantly looking at ways to improve road safety.
I want to thank Newmarket Council for supporting stop-arm cameras. The implementation of this technology will better hold drivers accountable for breaking the school bus stopping law (Section 175 of the Highway Traffic Act).
As indicated in the town's letter, on December 12, 2017, Ontario passed the Cannabis, Smoke-Free Ontario and Road Safety Statute Law Amendment Act, 2017, which:
• Allows the province to create specialized evidentiary rules that would clarify what evidence could be used to prove a driver improperly passed a stopped school bus without the need to have a witness present in court.
• Will expand the current school bus passing offence to include when the stop-arm is actuated (in addition to the existing overhead red lights flashing requirement). These changes will come into effect once a regulatory framework for stop-arm camera offences is created.
It is also important to note that the ministry intends to follow an implementation similar to the model being used with automated speed enforcement in school zones. Specifically, the province would be looking for municipalities to:
• Identify the preferred technology they would like to use.
• Procure the needed equipment.
• Enter into an agreement with the province and school bus technology vendor.
• Set up a framework for the processing of offence notices.
The province would then be responsible for:
• Developing regulations to govern stop-arm cameras.
• Supporting municipalities by advising of the regulatory process and participating in program design.
• Entering into agreements with participating municipalities to provide plate registrant information to the municipalities via a joint processing centre once procurement and program design is complete.
To ensure consistency across the province with respect to technology and processing of offences, we strongly encourage all interested municipalities to work together to identify preferred camera systems and a common approach to offence processing.
Once vendor selection and offence processing protocols are established, the province can then draft supporting regulations naming the preferred technology to allow for it to be used in court without the need for a witness. I look forward to working with Newmarket Council on this important issue. Thanks again for this opportunity to respond. Ontario's Government for the People is committed to giving Ontarians a direct say in how we can improve the effectiveness and efficiency of provincial programs and services.
Honourable Jeff Yurek
Minister of Transportation.
c. The Honourable Christine Elliott, MPP, Newmarket-Aurora
The Town of Newmarket’s Motion
That…” Request to the Province of Ontario to implement School Bus Stop-Arm Camera Regulations to increase student safety in the Town of Newmarket.”
Unanimous Motion by Newmarket Council Moved by Christina Bisanz Second by Bow Kwapis.
Background on this motion:
Councillor Christina Bisanz, Ward 7 Request to the Province of Ontario to implement School Bus Stop-Arm Camera Regulations to increase student safety in the Town of Newmarket Background Newmarket currently has approximately 100 school buses that drop off and pick up children from their homes to school, and back.
Children are at their most vulnerable while they are boarding or exiting their school bus. Ensuring their safety while they do so is paramount. For over 30 years now, school buses have been using flashing lights and stop arms that warn drivers of all vehicles to stop within 20 meters of the school bus. This law applies to both sides of the road unless there is a median dividing the road. All vehicles must stop regardless of which side of the road they are on while the stop arm is deployed. This law is a provincial offense governed by the Highway Traffic Act under subsection 175 (11) or (12).
The fines range from $400 to $2,000. However, due to a lack of resources for enforcement, vehicles “blow by” school buses on a daily basis with no concern for our children’s safety, regardless of the flashing lights and deployed stop arms. This is caused by a lack of attention to the road or a total ignorance of the law.
In December of 2017, an omnibus bill - Bill 174, Cannabis, Smoke-Free Ontario and Road Safety Statute Law Amendment Act, 2017 was adopted by the Province of Ontario. Bill 174 includes School Bus Camera legislation. At the present time, however, the regulations which would govern school bus cameras have not been written.
The Ministry of Transportation of Ontario (MTO) needs to hear from municipalities such as ours to expedite the writing of these regulations, and bring school bus cameras into action. To ensure we keep our children safe when they board or exit a school bus, which is an extension of a school zone, I request that: The Town of Newmarket send a letter to the Ontario Minister of Transportation, the Honourable John Yakabuski, to develop policy and regulations to enforce stop arm infractions and keep our children who use school buses, safe.
By working together, sharing information, ideas and being engaged in our community we can achieve great things for Newmarket.