Cameras provide strong deterent: councillorFrustrated by traffic, drivers are putting their pedal to the metal at yellow lights.
Now, Barrie may pull its red-light camera study out of park to deal with the problem.
Last year’s municipal election stalled the city’s talk of installing red-light cameras, but as the city grows, Coun. Michael Prowse and Mayor Jeff Lehman are seeing more drivers push their luck at several major intersections.
“The one I’ve witnessed firsthand is Ardagh and Essa,” said the Ward 6 councillor, who commutes to Toronto and who suggested in January 2014 that the city examine red-light cameras.
City council was keen to proceed with red-light cameras and it sought input from city staff and Barrie Police.
Traffic staff was cautious because of costs and mixed experiences in other municipalities, the mayor recalled.
“It was like a yellow light for red-light cameras and then there was the election. There was no direction from the last council,” said Lehman, who would support a pilot project.
“I’ve had too many complaints from residents and seen issues at major intersections. As the city grows busier, I drive around and have seen more instances of people getting frustrated by delays on streets like Mapleview or Bayfield and they get a yellow and gun it.”
As councillors were running for election last October, Barrie Police Chief Kimberley Greenwood said she would support any initiative that enhanced traffic and pedestrian safety.
Her report was parked.
“Red-light cameras have been recognized by our police chief as a viable and effective form of traffic enforcement and traffic calming. I believe our community would benefit from their addition,” Prowse added.
In York Region, red-light cameras raised $1.5 million in fines in 2014 from 8,600 drivers who were ticketed. The region is considering doubling its stock of 20 cameras in 2017, as not only did the cameras raise money, but reduced the number of T-bone collisions by 48 per cent.
Prowse said the cameras would provide a strong deterrent to drivers taking a chance on speeding up on a yellow.
Ontario Safety League president Brian Patterson agreed.
“For some people, they believe the minute-and-a-half that light will be red will change the course of history and they’ll hit the gas. They may not have noticed the pedestrian, the cyclist or other cars and the carnage and damage can be significant,” he said.
If there’s a red-light camera, “most of us will say, ‘Maybe I should drive more courteously and I’ll less likely to run into a ticket’.”
He added an additional 30 km/h of speed, which is often the case as a driver speeds up for a yellow light, can cause more severe injuries and damage.
“If you’ve hit a pedestrian, you’ve killed them. Or if there’s a car there … maybe you’ve had a T-bone crash and impact the people inside of the vehicle. The amount of medical, repair and insurance costs are huge.
“Often it’s discourteous, distracted and deadly all at the same time.”
• Toronto oversees the program that serves York Region, Toronto, Hamilton, Waterloo Region, Halton Region, Brampton and Ottawa.
• Barrie would have to apply to the Ministry of Transportation for approval.
• Barrie would lease the cameras, at an estimated cost of $60,000 per camera.
• Registered owner of the offending vehicle would receive the ticket.
• Fine for an infraction is $325. Of that, $265 would go to Barrie and $60 is Ontario’s victim surcharge. There are no demerit points.
• Barrie Police would identify high-risk intersections.
• City of Toronto receives a processing fee for tickets.