MATTAWA — Looking at the innocent face of Adam Ranger featured on billboards in the area and on social media posts about school bus and driver safety, it is unfathomable to many that the little boy who was taken too soon would have turned 28 on Jan. 12.
It was nearly 23 years ago, on Feb. 11, 2000, that the five-year-old Mattawa boy was fatally struck by a vehicle after its driver did not stop for the flashing lights nor the extended stop arm of the school bus near the Ranger family's home on Highway 17.
Thanks to the efforts of the Let's Remember Adam campaign, led by older brother Pierre Ranger, that young boy's face serves as a reminder to so many motorists who pay extra attention around school buses as their precious cargo embark and disembark at stops. But, Pierre says there is more to do to make sure every child gets home safely.
In memory of Adam, Pierre continues to advocate for school bus safety through the campaign and has made it his life's mission to prevent such a tragedy to afflict another family.
Adam's birthday was observed by his family and members of the organization on Thursday: "We all wonder what kind of young man he would be. This we will never know because someone did not STOP for the school bus and took Adam from us way too soon."
As schools opened in September 2022, there were some notable safety additions to school buses in Ontario. All buses are now mandated to be equipped with the eight-lamp amber-red warning system — meaning there is a new set of amber flashing lights at the top front and back of the school bus.
This move brought the province up to the standard across North America. Ranger and the Let's Remember Adam campaign played a large advocacy role in seeing the changes brought to fruition.
The focus has now shifted as the organization pushes to have another measure — stop-arm safety systems — installed on all school buses in the province.
"The power to have these systems installed is in the hands of the local municipalities, your mayors, and councillors," Ranger told local politicians in 2022. "The City of North Bay needs to make this change and needs to make their school buses safer."
Ranger made a virtual presentation to the previous council and outlined why the city should join the ranks of municipalities — like Mattawa — using stop-arm camera technology to identify those who do not stop for the school bus.
"I'm a huge supporter of anything that's going to make it safer to get children to and from school," stated Ranger then. "I've spent years trying to get drivers to understand the importance of stopping for the school bus with billboards, bumper stickers, and our message. Nothing seemed to work...but making them have to pay for not stopping for the school bus in a faster, more efficient way like these stop-arm cameras can do is a way we can get our message across."
Interested in learning more about the Let's Remember Adam stop-arm camera campaign? Click here.
Jean Souliere, the CEO of BusPatrol joined in on that virtual meeting to expand on Ranger's presentation regarding the technology. Mattawa was the first community in Ontario to have cameras on school buses collecting evidence for police. BusPatrol is free and available to any municipality. It is set up so the companies providing the cameras get their cut from the fines handed out to drivers.
Souliere presented supporting evidence of the effectiveness of the BusPatrol system. He explained offending drivers captured on camera and identified by their licence plates receive a letter with a link included. This link directs the driver to the video footage of the infraction. Presented with this evidence, Souliere said 95 per cent of drivers pay the fines without contesting them. He added, over a five-year period, BusPatrol data shows a 60 per cent reduction in violations.
For the full presentation, click here.
According to studies, there are tens of thousands of instances of drivers not noticing or ignoring the warning lights with stop arms extended every day in Ontario. BusPatrol collects digital evidence in an efficient way that meets the standards police need to secure convictions and hold drivers accountable. The company forms a partnership with the bus consortium, the municipality, and the police service. Souliere said North Bay's inclusion could involve a video processing service operated locally or could tap into a remote service.
With files from Jeff Turl