There is new reason to slow down on Ontario streets. Photo radar cameras are starting to arrive in communities across the province.
As of December 1, 2019, municipalities have the green light allowing the use photo radar cameras to get drivers to slow down on high-risk streets, such as school zones. Automated Speed Enforcement devices (ASE’s), are now being used by cities and towns to capture images, warn and eventually mail tickets to speeders.
Why? Road safety.
Research demonstrates that lower speeds and ASE in school zones and community safety zones can be expected to reduce serious injuries and fatalities — Highway Traffic Act regulatory posting by the Ontario Ministry of Transportation, Enhancing Municipal Road Safety through Automated Speed Enforcement.
Starting this month, Ontario has new regulations under Bill 65, The Safer School Zones Act. Giving municipalities the ability to use new tools to promote road safety is optional. New rules apply in two areas:
Will a ticket get drivers to slow down?
Through our own BE ALERT road-safety program we have encouraged drivers to slow down. Yet signs and safety campaigns are still not enough to change all driver behavior. Vision Zero goals are not being met. Children and older adults are still the ones most at risk. Some Mayors, frustrated with lack of progress, are welcoming the new rules.
I think that the notion of people getting a pretty big fat ticket, and their insurance company will know about it, I think this is going to do a lot to slow people down, – John Tory, Mayor of Toronto, said in a CBC interview on Nov 30, 2019.
Installed with cameras and sensors, the electronic signs showing vehicle speeds have been seen for some time. But gathering data, and informing drivers was all they could do. Now, municipalities are able to issue tickets to the registered owner of the vehicle using the evidence from what the photo radar machines capture.
Safety through enforcement is needed. Municipalities and police forces don’t have the manpower to enforce traffic speed everywhere. This technology will help do the job by grabbing drivers’ attention and getting them to slow down. This should help towns and cities improve road safety for vulnerable pedestrians around community safety and school zones.
Rules for Automated Speed Enforcement
Allowing municipalities to install speed cameras capable of issuing tickets, comes with rules set by the province. The use of ASE devices can only be on certain type of roads, and requires signage be posted to alert drivers where they are:
- New regulations apply to roads with a speed limit of less than 80 km/hr
- Installed in school and community safety zones where speed is a concern
- Signs to notify drivers of photo radar must be in place for 90 days before use
- Municipalities must take a consistent approach to signage and camera placement
- Municipalities must include public safety education and awareness as part of a program
- Reviews of municipal ASE programs take place after 180 days by the Province
These rules may mean that some municipalities may opt to only use ASE’s as a warning to those who exceed posted speed limits to change their driving habits.
Plenty of warning signs to take it slow
The City of Toronto plans to install 50 speed enforcement cameras in 2020. In Edmonton, there are about 70. The city publishes camera locations, along with posting signs where they are in use. Drivers can get audio warnings if they set up the Google Waze app. All these things work. Police don’t mind when drivers are alerted and slow down. That’s the point.
Warning signs and a test period are part of the Ontario rules to be followed before municipalities can begin installing and using ASE devices to issue tickets. Google will helpfully remind drivers of their location. Ignoring all the warnings can pretty much guarantee a speeding ticket will arrive in the mail within a few weeks. With so much caution and static placement, it is uncertain if photo radar will deter Ontario drivers who ignore the speed limit. But it seems to be working in other jurisdictions.
Time to slow down
We know a slower speed can give time for a driver to avoid a collision. Pedestrians are particularly vulnerable crossing a street. Signs and campaigns telling drivers to slow down have not been enough. The 24/7 technology should help municipalities have round the clock speed enforcement which eventually pays for itself. Some have complained these devices are a cash grab. But we are with Sgt. Bates, if photo radar has the desired effect of getting drivers to slow down and protect pedestrians. If this can prevent even one collision, photo radar is worth it for the whole community.
We welcome these new road safety tools and encourage towns and cities in Ontario to use them to get drivers to slow down. Trimtag wishes everyone time to slow down, enjoy a safe holiday season. Why not make it a New Year’s resolution to allow yourself more time, or get in touch about customizing our own BE ALERT program.