The next time you decide to go full throttle or cross a red light with no police in sight, you’d better take a second look at the automatic eye on watch.

Last year, GTA municipalities promoted zero tolerance for speeding and dangerous driving by expanding their add-on for automatic cruise control and red light cameras.

Hundreds of traffic control devices are now scattered across our urban highways with new locations emerging in the Durham, Toronto, York, and Peel regions.

“We know that speeding can have dire consequences and we must, as a city, take action to get motorists to slow down,” Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie said last month when announcing the first pair of 20 new cameras. planned speed control.

The star count and interactive map show that the four municipalities have more than 380 active or proposed locations for combined speed and red light cameras.

In many cases, such as Durham, speed cameras are rotated through a broader list of community safety zones, many of which are in densely populated residential corridors or school zones.

The repercussions for crossing automated devices are not cheap: the fine set for being caught at a red light is $ 260, plus a $ 60 victim surcharge and a $ 5 court fee. Automated speeding tickets they include a flat fine based on your speed over the limit, applicable court costs, and a fine surcharge to the victim.

In Toronto, automatic control manager Jeffrey Catlin expects a planned expansion of automatic speed cameras and red light cameras to cover more of the city. Toronto currently has 50 automatic speed check locations and 150 red light locations. Toronto recently signed an agreement to double its count of red light cameras, Catlin said.

Early data shows that the automated application is working, Catlin said. “We are seeing a reduction in speeding drivers,” he said, adding that a more complete data set will be available shortly.

According to the data, Toronto fast cameras issued 75,270 tickets from July 6 to December 31, 2020 and 81,000 speeding tickets in the first three months of 2021. The city also lists the number of offenses emitted by red light cameras: almost 80,000 in 2020.

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In all cases, the camera images are reviewed by an officer who decides whether a speeding or red light ticket is justified. “One of the things we hear consistently is that the camera just throws a ticket,” he added. “That is never true.”

Here is the interactive map of Star from the automated application in GTA:

GTA municipalities have been testing and expanding their red camera programs since the early 2000s. The idea is not without its critics.

Professor Baher Abdulhai, Director of the Center for Intelligent Transportation Systems at the University of Toronto, favors the automated application of photographic radars, but only if municipalities apply a reasonable approach to the degree of speeding that justifies a fine. Drivers should have room for maneuver at an average speed just above the speed limit before they are measured, he said.

Abdulhai said he has also found instances of red lights not syncing properly: If an amber light goes off too quickly, “it can trap people in a situation known as a dilemma zone.”

Abdulhai recently received a ticket for running a red light in the Erin Mills Parkway area of ​​Mississauga. The curious civil engineer decided to do his own calculations and concluded that the traffic light is not timed correctly, he said.

“I thought about contesting the fine, but I realize it will take days in court, so I paid it,” he said.

In Alberta, the provincial government has criticized municipalities for concerns that the automated application is a source of revenue with data that does not substantiate the claim that the devices improve security. The Alberta provincial government has frozen in all new photographic radar installations and is seeking justification from its municipalities.

Photographic radar is no longer allowed in the province in places where speed limits change rapidly and on high-speed multi-lane highways, unless there is documented proof of safety concerns.

Calgary Police Sgt. Rob Patterson said, “Being open about where you are implementing and how you are implementing is probably the number one factor in getting people to join,” adding, “So it’s not a surprise and we’re not trying to hide them and sneak up on people. “

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Still, a US road safety organization says its studies show that these systems work if implemented correctly.

Wen Hu, a senior transportation research engineer with the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), based in Virginia, said that studies of cameras on residential highways in Maryland, on a high-speed highway in Arizona, and on city streets in the District of Columbia found that the proportion of drivers exceeding speed limits by more than 10 mph decreased by 70, 88 and 82 percent. one hundred, respectively, six to eight months after the introduction of the cameras.

In Montgomery County, Maryland, another study “found that seven years after they started using speed cameras there was a reduction in drivers speeding and there was a reduction in speed-related crashes, as well as crashes that caused serious or fatal injuries “Hu said.

In Toronto, Catlin said the city relies on the Ontario Traffic Manual to ensure minimum amber light times, based on speed at a specific intersection, are met before the light application is implemented. red.

Meanwhile, the automatic speed machines are on a maintenance schedule and are being recalibrated with a notice posted on the city’s website.

“We have a good success rate in approving these (tickets) because our equipment is very accurate and proven,” he said.

Jason Miller is a Toronto-based Star reporter covering crime and justice in the Peel region. Contact him by email: [email protected] or follow him on Twitter: @millermotionpic

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