The cameras installed on Hanover School Division buses in late June have seen drivers charged for driving through the stop sign and red flashing lights.
Steinbach RCMP Staff Sergeant Harold Laninga says, to date, there are eight drivers who have been charged, an offense which comes with a $673.65 ticket and two demerits. Laninga notes the division provides the detachment with photos and video of the offense which helps in the process of prosecuting the driver.
"Then they'll have the ticket and they have the choice of pleading guilty or not guilty. If they plead guilty, obviously, then the fine would be levied; if they plead not guilty, then a trial could be held."
HSD director of transportation Robert Warkentin says most of these incidents are occurring on the highways.
"We're not having any of these things happening in our rural, down the gravel roads. Essentially they're happening on the higher speed areas [such as highway] 12, 205, 52, and 59. Then some of it is happening within the urban centres as well."
Laninga says it's important for drivers to know, the amber lights which come on before the red lights and stop sign, are flashing for eight whole seconds, giving the driver plenty of time to stop.
"HSD provides training for their drivers to have the amber lights on for eight seconds. That provides ample opportunity for vehicles to stop, and the amber doesn't mean speed up or try to get by, it means prepare to stop," explains Laninga. "So, there might be a misconception that you don't have to stop until the swinging arm is out or something like that, but the idea is that you have eight seconds once you see the amber to come to a stop. By the red light, you should be stopped and definitely don't proceed [until the red lights are off]."
According to the Manitoba Driver's Licence Handbook, traffic in both directions of a two-lane or four-lane non-divided highway must stop at least five metres from a bus with flashing lights or another warning device and remain stopped until the signal is turned off or the bus starts moving again.
The handbook adds, "You need not stop when approaching a school bus from the opposite direction of a divided highway, providing there's a physical separation such as a median between the two roads. However, you must slow down and watch out for children. A double solid line is not a physical separation."
Warkentin says, at the end of the day, the push for drivers to stop is for student safety.
"It would be awesome if we would never catch anyone driving through our red lights, that's the goal of this. From Hanover's standpoint, it's not a financial thing. It's about getting people to stop while our kids are getting on and off the buses because that's the last thing we want to do, to have an accident or incident at a bus stop."
He notes currently there are 27 buses with cameras and he hopes to have another 25 installed by next summer.