Lead-footed drivers who speed through some of the province’s busiest intersections could soon find a photo and a speeding ticket arriving in the mail.
The province is activating speed-detection technology built into red-light cameras at 35 of the province’s highest-risk intersections.
The Ministry of Public Safety says it analyzed crash data from B.C.’s 140 Intersection Safety Cameras, and chose the 35 with the best opportunity to increase safety by cracking down on speeders.
“We have a record number of crashes happening – more than 900 a day in our province – and about 60 per cent of the crashes on our roads are at intersections,” said Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General in a media release.
“We’ve taken time to systematically pinpoint the locations linked to crashes and dangerous speeds that are best suited to safely catching, ticketing and changing the behaviours of those who cause carnage on B.C. roads.”
WATCH: Red-light cameras now up and running 24 hours a day in B.C.
The cameras will be able to nab speeders on green, yellow or red lights, but will only fire when drivers are going “well over the posted limit.”
The NDP denies the new program is like the old, unpopular photo-radar regime that the party implemented in the 1990s.
Under that program, police in unmarked vans parked in random locations and issued tickets at low speeding thresholds. It was scrapped in 2001.
“This is not like that at all,” said Farnworth.
“What this is, is in the most dangerous intersections … putting in the speed activated cameras will have a significant ability to reduce accidents. There’s warning signs up, the locations are posted online, so it’s not a surprise to anybody. It’s completely different from 20 years ago.”
The ministry says it will not disclose the exact threshold of speeding that will trigger the camera, in order to discourage all speeders.
It said that threshold may also change in the future, based on how the program works out.
“I’ve got to laugh when they when they solicitor general says that this is not photo radar. This is photo radar,” said Ian Tootill, co-founder of driver advocacy group SENSE BC.
“This is de facto speed convictions that arrive in the mail after the fact. And it relies on the it places the onus on the owner of a vehicle to prove innocence rather than the onus being on the accuser to prove guilt.”
Tootill said he appreciates the increased transparency, in terms of publishing the locations of the cameras, but says the system still makes drivers guilty until proven innocent, while failing to do anything about other dangerous behaviours such as impaired driving.
BC Liberal public safety critic Mike Morris shared Tootill’s assessment that the initiative amounts to a repeat of photo radar.
“People just felt it was a cash cow, the government was using it go generate revenue, period,” he said.
“They should be concentrating on reducing crashes at intersections, and if they need to take more drastic actions then maybe increase the penalties for driving through red lights.”
WATCH: The roll-out of intersection cameras to catch speeders in B.C. is being delayed
According to the province, between 2012 and 2016, its network of red light cameras recorded about 10,500 drivers zipping through intersections at more than 30 km/h over the speed limit.
The province says warning signs will begin to go up this summer, with cameras active by late summer or early fall.
The province initially rolled out a batch of red-light cameras last summer with the plan of adding speed enforcement, but delayed the activation of the second phase in order to study which intersections posed the highest risk.