Island school district adds cameras to bus fleet, records cars that pass unloading buses

The Cowichan Valley School District (SD79) has installed cameras across its school bus fleet to improve safety for children entering and exiting the buses.

For years, school bus drivers on Vancouver Island have raised concerns about vehicles passing parked school buses that are offloading kids, resulting in terrifying close calls.

Now, SD79 says that both exterior and interior cameras have been added to their buses to help improve overall safety.

"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, chair of the board of education for SD79 in a release Thursday.

"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," she said.

The cameras were installed on the bus fleet during spring break. Since then, the school district says 22 incidents of vehicles disregarding stop signs have already been recorded in roughly three weeks.

Meanwhile, interior cameras have also been installed aboard SD79 buses. The school district says the interior cameras are being used to assist with COVID-19 contact tracing if an exposure is reported.

Installation of the cameras cost approximately $150,000 and was funded through the federal government's "safe return to class" fund.

"The addition of the interior and exterior cameras on our buses provide peace of mind for students and staff alike," said Spilsbury. "We are grateful that the grant from the Government of Canada has allowed us to enhance our safety features for everyone who rides our buses."