Quebec experiments with photo radar

Source: CBC News

Posted: 02/24/09 1:47PM

Filed Under: [replacer_a]

The Quebec government is trying out photo radar and red light cameras at 15 locations across the province in an effort to break the bad habits of some drivers.
As part of an 18-month pilot project, the cameras will be operating at some of the most dangerous trouble spots on urban and rural roads in Montreal and the Montérégie and Chaudière-Appalaches regions.
Six red light cameras, six fixed photo radar units, and three mobile photo radar units will be used.
Transport Minister Julie Boulet said it's time Quebec joined other provinces such as Alberta in using technology as a tool to fight poor driving.
"Road safety is a priority for this government. We will spare no effort. We are convinced that this project has the potential to become a major way to reach our objective of improving road safety and saving lives," Boulet said Tuesday.
Warning tickets to start
The pilot project will begin May 19.
Police plan to send out warning letters to drivers for three months prior to the first tickets being issued on Aug. 19.
Karl Bélanger, director of road safety for Transport Quebec, said the tickets will have the same penalties as regular tickets.
"The difference is that instead of being at the site and getting your ticket from a police officer, you will receive it by mail and you will have three pictures to show you, your vehicle, and licence plate," he said.
The other difference, he said, is that because of the issue in proving the identity of the driver, drivers will not get any demerit points.
Quebec hopes to avoid controversy
The use of photo radar in B.C. and other provinces has been controversial. A number of court challenges have resulted, with some arguing they're a violation of a person's right to be assumed innocent before proven guilty.
Bélanger hopes Quebec can avoid too much controversy by making it clear from the start that improving road safety is the main priority.
He said the province will put all ticket revenues from photo radar and red light cameras into a dedicated fund that can only be used for road safety initiatives.
He also said Transport Quebec carefully chose the locations because of their high accident rates.
Motorists won't be surprised, he said. Multiple signs will alert drivers when they are entering a camera zone.
The pilot project will continue until 2010.