City of Toronto officials have announced plans that could nearly double the number of red-light cameras in the city. The increase is part of an effort to curb red-light running and improve safety in a way that is becoming increasingly popular nationwide.
Toronto adding 76 cameras by spring is part of Mayor John Tory’s goal to have zero traffic deaths in the city. The cameras also generate $7 million in revenue per year, but Tory says “as far as I’m concerned if they produced zero in terms of net revenue I would still be happy,” thanks to the decreased collisions injuries, and deaths that would result.
This isn’t just a Toronto trend, as the number of red-light cameras is on the rise nationwide. British Columbia now has cameras at 140 of their worst intersections province-wide, Ottawa is adding 15 cameras for 2017 and Montreal has 10 now, with plans for more in 2017 as well. Even in New Brunswick, where they are currently not permitted by the Motor Vehicle Act, the City of Fredericton has tested cameras and councillors want the law to change to allow them.
Red-light cameras are generally fixed cameras, set up at intersections where the number of collisions is higher than average. The cameras take photos of any vehicles who run the red light and a ticket is sent to the owner of the vehicle. There are now red-light cameras in six provinces, with the Atlantic provinces being the holdouts.
Red light running accidents are usually T-bone collisions that often involve (and therefore injure) pedestrians or cyclists. For those reasons, many cities, regions, and provinces are adding the cameras in an effort to reduce the numbers of those serious collisions.
The consequences of running a red light are somewhat more severe than those of driving 102 km/h in a 100 km/h zone, so the red-light cameras can gain acceptance more easily than photo radar. A 2015 report by the City of Toronto found that the cameras reduced injuries caused by angle collisions (like a T-bone from running a light) by 37 percent. Rear-end collisions did rise 27 percent, likely as drivers slammed on their brakes on a yellow light, but the total of those rear-end collisions causing injury fell. City officials found that accident rates at intersections in the areas near the cameras fell as well.
Since government evaluations find the cameras to improve safety, and because they tend to generate revenue while they do so, expect the trend of more cameras in more places to continue. The Ontario government announced an initiative allowing municipalities more photo radar leeway late in 2016
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