It was an idea raised during an agriculture and rural affairs committee meeting in February as councillors learned about the city’s plans for road and pedestrian safety.
What if, some wondered, the city built boxes that look like red-light camera housings but, in fact, don’t contain a camera at all?
Kanata South Coun. Allan Hubley asked staff about the potential for mock cameras in Ottawa. Residents like red-light cameras because they help prevent the dangerous T-bone crashes, Hubley said Monday.
“I wanted to start the movement to get some real red-light cameras,” Hubley said.
Hubley pointed out Terry Fox and Palladium Drives cracked the Top 10 list of intersections with the most crashes in 2014, but there is no red-light camera. He wants the city to do an analysis of the types of collisions there.
Most of existing 34 intersections with red-light cameras are in the urban area. There are a handful in the suburbs.
The city has earmarked money for an expansion of the red-light camera program through 2018.
Council has signed off on installing 20 new camera locations – with real cameras leased by the city – at intersections during the current term of council. The city is using data on preventable collisions to determine which intersections should get a camera. Five locations have been selected so far.
After receiving the direction to look into phony red-light cameras, public works staff considered what it would take to fake out motorists. The written explanation, which has been distributed to members of the committee, concludes that it’s not worth the effort.
To adequately fool drivers, the city would need to install all the red-light camera infrastructure, minus the actual camera. That means sticking a pole with a camera housing into the ground, installing a flash unit, hooking up a controller and pressing sensors into the road.
A dead giveaway would be the lack of signage. According to staff, an agreement with the province says the city can’t install red-light camera warning signs where there isn’t a camera present or the location isn’t on a camera rotation.
Plus, the agreement says the city still needs to pay a monthly fee to the red-light camera provider at non-active camera sites. A fake camera site would generate no revenue to cover the cost.
Staff note that when red-light cameras were first being established in Ontario, a municipal-provincial steering committee ruled out mock cameras.
“In light of the limited potential of any deterrent effect, as well as the potential negative impact on the integrity of the city’s ‘real’ red light camera program, staff do not recommend the installation of ‘mock’ red-light camera sites,” staff write in their response.
The city had a kind of fake red-light camera system when it had more boxes than cameras at intersections. The city simply rotated the cameras and motorists didn’t know which housings had the cameras installed. Now, each box has a camera.
Source: The Ottawa Sun