Legislation aiming to amend the Highway Traffic Act could see drivers illegally passing stopped school buses nabbed with surveillance technology alone.

Bill 94, put forth by Chatham-Kent Essex MPP Rick Nicholls, has passed its second reading and has been referred to the standing committee on social policy.

The amendment would see video or photographs from a school bus camera to be used as “standalone evidence” against drivers who fail to stop for a bus when its stop arm is out and lights are flashing, said Roy Wierenga, assistant manager with Student Transportation of Peel Region (STOPR), a consortium that handles transportation for nearly 65,000 students in the Peel District School Board and Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board.

“Currently, the Highway Traffic Act allows the use of photographic evidence from a camera mounted on a school bus, as long as a witness supports the evidence,” Ministry of Transportation Vanessa Miceli said in an email.

The penalty for failing to stop for a school bus when the stop arm is out and lights are flashing is a fine from $400 to $2,000 as well as six demerit points upon conviction, she noted.

Unless a police officer is present, school bus drivers are usually the ones to report vehicles that pass buses when the stop arm is out, said Wierenga, who is not aware of any recent incidents where someone was struck by a vehicle.

“It’s pretty serious offence — the most critical moment for student safety is as they get on and off the bus,” he said.

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