Red light cameras may be steering their way into high risk Kingston intersections.
The use of automated enforcement cameras to catch red light runners was shelved by Kingston’s city council three years ago while a traffic and pedestrian safety study was launched.
Now, one of the recommendations to emerge from that study, known as Vision Zero, is for city council to introduce red light cameras.
“We know red light cameras were considered in the past and there will be another opportunity for council to reconsider it later this year,” says Deanna Green, manager of the city’s traffic division.
The red light camera program has been operating in other Canadian municipalities for the past 20 years.
READ MORE: Red light cameras elsewhere
The automated camera records the licence plate of a vehicle that crosses into a pre-selected intersection when the traffic light has changed to red.
The camera takes three pictures; one is of your licence plate, one is of your vehicle prior to the (pavement) stop bar, and a third is a picture of the vehicle in the intersection.
The owner of the vehicle is later mailed a $325 ticket that has no impact on demerit points. The program is administered by the city of Toronto.
“What we are seeing across the province is at an intersection where there are red light cameras they’ve seen incidents of red light running decrease by half,” Green explains.
A business case study done for the city in 2015 also says it could lead to a 15-per cent increase in rear-end collisions as more drivers brake at amber lights to avoid a potential ticket.
Drivers entering an intersection on an amber light or those who enter the intersection on a green or amber light to make a left-hand turn will not be ticketed.
Initially, Green says the Vision Zero strategy is recommending red light cameras be installed at 10 high risk intersections across Kingston.
She says there is a five-year cycle to register with the program, which means the city would have to sign the paperwork by next year in order for the cameras to be installed by 2021 or 2022.
The estimated cost to install and operate cameras at 10 intersections is $520,000 a year. But with estimated fine revenues at $970,000 the program is expected to generate a profit of about $450,000 annually, according to a 2015 staff report to council.
The city only needs to hand out 0.5 tickets a day per camera, per intersection in order for the program to pay for itself.
Green dismisses complaints that these automated cops are nothing more than a cash grab, noting that the program’s intent is to be revenue neutral. However, she says any profits would be directed into traffic education programs.
The city may also launch photo radar in community safety zones and near schools, a program currently being studied by the provincial government.
READ MORE: Province studies photo radar in school zones
The Vision Zero policy has identified seven “emphasis” areas in order to focus resources to improve the safety of drivers, pedestrians and cyclists.
They are: intersections (including red light running), distracted driving, aggressive driving, impaired driving, pedestrian collisions, cyclist collisions and the young demographic.
City officials acknowledge no policy is fool-proof, but they say adopting a comprehensive Vision Zero strategy is a step in the right direction.
“We know we have more than 300 people injured on our streets every year, and we’ve looked at the data and we know 40 pedestrians are injured every year, and on average 40 cyclists. So these are very vulnerable groups of road users.”
The public will have until June 23 to comment on the draft Vision Zero report.
Green says the final report is expected to be presented to city council later this summer.
A separate report and recommendation to adopt red light cameras is expected to be debated by council in the fall.