Quebec introduces photo radar
Aimed at speeders, red-light runners
By CHERYL CORNACCHIA, The GazetteMay 19, 2009
File photo of the Ville Marie Expressway.
Photograph by: Marcos Townsend, The Gazette
Quebec's long-awaited photo-radar system will begin snapping photos today of Montreal motorists who speed or run red lights.
As part of an 18-month pilot project to improve Quebec road safety, photo radar has been installed at 15 locations across the province.
In Montreal, the new camera units are now up and running in six different locations.
There have been traffic fatalities at all six of the locations, Claude Dauphin said yesterday, welcoming today's arrival of photo radar.
"We are in favour of any new measures that will improve our road safety record," said Dauphin, the city of Montreal executive committee member responsible for public security.
"The idea is to save lives."
Photo radar has improved road safety in several countries, including France, where the traffic fatality rate dropped by 40 per cent after its introduction, Dauphin said.
"It could make a difference here," he added.
In 2008, 557 people died on Quebec's roads, 106 fewer deaths than the province had averaged over the previous five years.
Speeding, however, was a contributing factor in 37 per cent of those accidents, according to the Société de l'assurance automobile du Québec.
Photo radar - which is to be funded by ticket revenue and is expected to cost an estimated $6.6 million - will beef up police presence on the province's roads.
The anti-speeding initiative is the latest to be introduced by Transport Quebec. This spring, the province's auto-insurance board started running TV ads to persuade Quebec drivers to slow down.
"Anything that makes the road safer is a good thing," said Peter Foster, a manager with Diamond Taxi, a Montreal fleet of 1,100 cabs.
"Nowadays there is less talk about Big Brother," he added, alluding to concerns held by some about video surveillance.
The average taxi driver is on the road 60 hours a week, Foster said. "It's in their interest to see safety risks reduced on the road."
For the first three months of the program, fines will not be issued to motorists caught speeding or running red lights by photo radar units, a move commended by some drivers yesterday.
Starting Aug. 19, however, that all changes.
The same fines you would receive from a police officer will be issued - $154 for running a red light and up to $1,255 for speeding.
In addition, motorists will not lose demerit points - three for running a red light and up to 14 for speeding - during the pilot project, but that, too, could change.
The provincial government is expected to review findings after 12 months to decide whether to expand or abandon the use of photo radar.
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