Exterior cameras have been installed on all Cowichan Valley School District buses. (Submitted)

Exterior cameras have been installed on all Cowichan Valley School District buses. (Submitted)

Robert Barron column: Cameras on school buses a good idea

“I’ve seen kids have to run from cars”

I’m glad to see that every school bus in the Cowichan Valley has finally been outfitted with surveillance cameras, inside and out.

The primary role of the cameras, which cost $150,000 and were financed through the federal government’s Safe Return to Class Fund, is to allow for easier contact tracing in the event of a student, or students, on the bus contracting COVID-19.

The four interior cameras on each bus will provide contact tracers with detailed information about conditions inside the buses, including mask wearing, length of interactions, and distance between riders.

But it’s the three exterior cameras that I’m most excited about as they will serve to document traffic infractions and problem drivers who put both students and staff at risk.

My heart leaps into my throat every time I see a school bus stopped on the side of the road with its red lights flashing and that little stop sign sticking out from the driver’s side warning drivers not to go around the bus while stopped, and then some bozo does it anyway.

I tightly grip my steering wheel every time, hoping and praying that some youngster doesn’t come skipping out from the front of the bus and into the path of the moron who feels that rules just don’t apply to him/her.

Most children I know are easily excited and tend to forget such self-preserving practices like looking to make sure there are no vehicles coming before they dart into the street, and that’s why the law puts the onus on the drivers, who are supposed to be adults and responsible for following the rules of the road.

And for those drivers who may have forgotten the basics from when they took their driving test to get their licence, you are never allowed to pass a school bus that has its stop lights flashing.

There is no excuse for it; it doesn’t matter if you’re late for an appointment or just have to go to the bathroom very badly, you just don’t do it.

It’s a tragedy for everyone involved when a child with a full life ahead is struck on the road and badly injured, or even killed, so I really appreciate it when authorities take steps to help ensure such horrific instances don’t happen.

I remember reading a story by my former colleague Lexi Bainas a couple of years ago in which she interviewed school bus driver Carol Combs who had been driving for the local school district for 15 years and told Bainas that she had seen some pretty close calls in that time.

“I’ve had to use my air horns to get the kids to jump and get back into the bus and out of the way of the traffic,” Combs said.

“I’ve seen kids have to run from cars.”

I recall back in 2019 when the North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP had officers following buses and issuing tickets to those who put students at risk, and in just a few days, officers wrote five tickets and one warning for failing to stop for a school bus.

That’s unacceptable, and these new cameras will go a long way to bring motorists disobeying the rules around school buses to justice.

“The North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP will be working closely with the Cowichan Valley School District with the same goal: to keep our children safe while being transported to and from school,” said Candace Spilsbury, chairwoman of the Cowichan Valley school district, about the new cameras.

“Using this new technology, it will be easier to bring enforcement action to those that persist in passing school buses using their stop equipment, breaking the law and putting our children in danger.”

So you impatient motorists who feel you have the right to put children at risk should keep in mind that there are now cameras on those buses watching you, and you can expect a visit from your local police to talk to you about your driving habits if you break the rules.

I think the small federal investment of $150,000 is a small price to pay if it saves the lives of just one of our most vulnerable, and valuable, citizens.


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter


Just Posted

Old-growth logging protesters block a road on Monday, June 14. This is not the blockade at Honeymoon Bay referred to in the story. (Facebook photo)
Old-growth logging protesters block RCMP access on road near Honeymoon Bay

Police were on their way to enforcement in Fairy Creek area when they were stopped

Cowichan Citizen and Lake Cowichan Gazette announce new publisher

David van Deventer has been with Black Press Media since 2014

Island Health is bringing a vaccination clinic to Lake Cowichan starting June 23. (Submitted)
COVID vaccine clinic coming to Lake Cowichan as area numbers lag

Clinic will operate at arena starting June 23

The Tsow-Tun Le Lum Society, which has been operating a treatment centre on land leased from the Nanoose First Nation for 35 years (pictured), has begun a fundraising campaign to open a new centre near Duncan. (Tsow-Tun Le Lum Society photo)
New Indigenous treatment centre to be built near Duncan

Centre will help survivors of residential schools

Rick Ruppenthal of Saltair will host a 12-hour talk-a-thon Friday, June 18 over Facebook live. (Photo submitted)
Talk-a-thon to focus on men’s mental health issues

Saltair man spearheading a campaign to generate more conversation during fundraiser

Maxwell Johnson is seen in Bella Bella, B.C., in an undated photo. The Indigenous man from British Columbia has filed complaints with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal and the Canadian Human Rights Commission after he and his granddaughter were handcuffed when they tried to open a bank account. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Heiltsuk Nation, Damien Gillis, *MANDATORY CREDIT*
VIDEO: Chiefs join human rights case of Indigenous man handcuffed by police in B.C. bank

Maxwell Johnson said he wants change, not just words, from Vancouver police

Two ambulances and a medevac helicopter are on scene at Taylor River Flats rest area on Highway 4 due to a serious motor vehicle incident. (PHOTO COURTESY MAGGIE BROWN)
Highway 4 reopens between Port Alberni and Tofino

Multi-vehicle accident temporarily closed highway in both directions

Tk’emlups te Secwepemc Chief Rosanne Casimir stands outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School after speaking to reporters, in Kamloops, B.C., on Friday, June 4, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Kamloops chief says more unmarked graves will be found across Canada

Chief Rosanne Casimir told a virtual news conference the nation expects to release a report at the end of June

A woman wears a vaccinated sticker after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. ranks among highest in world in COVID-19 first-dose shots: health officials

More than 76% of eligible people have received their 1st shot

A screenshot of the First Peoples Cultural Councils First Peoples’ Map. (First Peoples Cultural Council)
Online resource blends B.C.-Alberta’s Indigenous languages, art and culture

Advisor says initiative supports the urgent need to preserve Indigenous languages

An artists conception of the new terminal building at the Pitt Meadows Regional Airport.
Air travel taking off in B.C., but lack of traffic controllers a sky-high concern

There will be demand for more air traffic controllers: Miller

Canadian Armed Forces experts are on their way to North Vancouver after a local homeowner expressed worry about a military artifact he recently purchased. (Twitter DNV Fire and Rescue)
Military called in to deal with antique ‘shell’ at North Vancouver home

‘The person somehow purchased a bombshell innocently believing it was an out-of-commission military artifact’

Amy Kobelt and Tony Cruz have set their wedding date for February, hoping that more COVID-19 restrictions will have lifted. (The Macleans)
B.C. couples ‘gambling’ on whether COVID rules will let them dance at their wedding

Amy Kobelt and Tony Cruz pushed back their wedding in hopes of being able to celebrate it without the constraints of COVID-19

A plane is silhouetted as it takes off from Vancouver International Airport in Richmond, B.C., May 13, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Report calls for airlines to refund passengers for flights halted due to COVID-19

Conclusion: federal help should be on the condition airlines immediately refund Canadian travellers

Most Read