Peter Stopny was seeing red.
But it’s the yellow traffic light at the intersection of King Street West and Dundurn Street South that should worry him.
When he wrote Action Line Nov. 3, Stopny had already been convicted of running a red light and ordered to pay his $325 fine. This transgression had been caught on camera.
Like many folks, he felt wrongly accused, so he filed an appeal, which will be heard Dec. 1.
“My goal is to have this case dismissed on the grounds that I am not disobeying a red-light camera and by coming to an abrupt stop at the amber light, I could have caused a rear-end collision,” Stopny told us. “In my judgment, I did not believe that it was safe to stop abruptly.”
He’s been thorough in preparing for the appeal.
“I obtained three transcripts of the (earlier) proceedings, paying $81. I enclosed the receipts with the application to file an appeal, dated June 18. I submitted one transcript to the Provincial Offences office and one to the Appeals Court, and I kept the third for my own records. I also enclosed my letter of May 6 entitled Points to Ponder and a five-page letter with photographs to establish that I am not guilty.”
There’s no question the red-light camera program has been a revenue producer.
“In 2014 we had approximately 14,400 violations,” City of Hamilton communications officer Kelly Anderson told Action Line.
Gross red-light camera revenue for 2014 was $3,444,000. Operating costs were $1,421,000 and net revenue was $2,023,000.”
Stopny himself states his front bumper was over the intersection’s white line “when the light turned red.”
He maintains slamming on the brakes at that time would have been dangerous.
But why didn’t he hit his brakes when the amber light came on?
“The duration or timing of the yellow display is determined by the posted speed on the roadway,” Anderson told Action Line. “The standards used in Hamilton follow provincial guidelines as identified in the Ontario Traffic Manual Book 12. Generally speaking, the higher the posted speed the longer the amber light stays on. At 50 kilometres per hour, the amber will last 3.3 seconds. At 90 km/h, the amber will last 5.1 seconds. The amber timing remains constant but is specific to each intersection based on the posted roadway speed.”
Media officer Bob Nichols of the Ministry of Transportation offered further clarification.
“The Ontario Traffic Manual (OTM) Book 12, Traffic Signals contains standards and guidelines for the design, operation and timing of traffic signals” in the province, Nichols said. “These standards were developed in consultation with Ontario municipalities. The duration of the amber light has been determined based on internationally accepted practices from the Institute of Transportation Engineers and depends on the posted speed limit on the intersecting roads.”
Even after the red light comes on, there is a grace period of about one second before the green light permits traffic to move in the opposite direction. In other words, no traffic moves in any direction for that one-second period.
And what about Stopny’s claim that disobeying a red-light camera is not a Highway Traffic Act offence?
“The offence is ‘Disobey a red light,’ which is set in subsection 144 (18) of the act and, pursuant to subsection 205.15 (1), a photograph of the offence taken by a red-light camera system is used as evidence for the charge,” Nichols explained. “The ticket issued then refers to subsection 144 (18.1) rather than subsection 144 (18) in these instances because the vehicle owner rather than the driver is charged with the offence.”
The phrase “red-light camera offence” simply refers to a combination of the offence and type of enforcement tool used. The phrase itself does not form the basis for the charge. The photographic evidence does, Nichols said.
So how far do you travel in 3.3 seconds when moving at 50 km/h?
According to online calculators, you’ll cover about 45 metres, which is the equivalent of nine mid-sized car lengths.
Stopny told us he’s been driving for 55 years and has a clean driver’s record.
Source: The Hamilton Spectator