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Automated speed cameras now operational in Durham Region

Click to play video 'Durham region switches on automatic speed cameras' Durham region switches on automatic speed cameras
After months of delay, the region has started their Automated Speed Enforcement cameras. The units will take photos of potential speeders, along with collecting data. Frazer Snowdon has more.

You may want to watch your speed wherever you’re driving through Durham Region. As of this week, automated speed cameras are now in effect for four zones in the region.

“It’s aimed to capture the rear licence plate of the vehicle,” says Steven Kemp, manager of traffic engineering and operations for Durham Region.

“Our feeling is the only way to do this, based on experience in other jurisdictions, is to use a device like this.”

It’s pretty simple: if you speed by the camera where it’s set up in one of the four locations, you could see a flash and a ticket could be heading your way in the mail.

The rotating cameras have been installed in four strategic locations. These include near Durham College, Brock Street in Pickering, a high school in Whitby and a problem stretch along Bayly Street in Ajax.

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Read more: Photo radar could be coming to Durham Region

The idea is to prevent people from speeding in community and school safety zones.

“We’re concerned about safety,” says Kemp. “Those were the sites that we think we can really make a difference.”

That concern is  shared by residents like Linda Calhoun. She lives near a camera that’s now taking pictures along Andersen Road, where she says speed has been an ongoing problem.

“We’ve noticed the traffic is getting more and more busier. We were thrilled when the cameras went in,” said Calhoun, who takes her grandchildren for walks around the area.

“We really wish there were more.”

The cameras are all part of the Vision Zero initiative, a safety action plan to make safer roads. Twelve red light cameras will also be turned on in the coming days.

The collaborative program includes municipalities, police and several partners in an effort to increase safety for drivers, cyclists and pedestrians.

Officials with the traffic engineering department say there is not a set speed threshold and technically the camera will register anyone who goes past the limit — meaning if you are going 52 km/h in a 50 zone, you could get a ticket.

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“We expect people to drive the speed limit,” said Kemp while explaining the system. After a driver gets caught going above the limit, their photo and their rate of speed is sent to a third-party contractor in Toronto. Kemp says that is where their fate will lie.

“The decision of whether or not there’s a charge is left up to a provincial offences officer there.”

Read more: Over 22K tickets issued by Toronto speed enforcement cameras in 1 month

The official start of automated speed enforcement in Durham comes just weeks after Toronto turned theirs online.

It was on Friday that Toronto released the data that 22,000 tickets had been handed out in just the month of July alone. Along with Durham Region, the city had to delay the start of the program — after the province put the parameters in place for municipalities to do so.

Drivers were given notice during this time, and data was being collected. That’s where the region saw a disturbing trend.

“The statistics were pretty high,” said Kemp. “Over 100,000 images were collected during that time and there were some pretty high speeds.”

The four zones were chosen after extensive studies targeting problem areas in the region. Kemp says one them is Bayly Road in Ajax, where they found alarming results.

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“In a zone that is normally 60 km/h, we captured a driver going 196 km/h past this site.”

Click to play video 'New numbers on B.C. speed cameras' New numbers on B.C. speed cameras
New numbers on B.C. speed cameras

If you do get a ticket, officials say no demerit points will be deducted as the camera only registers the owner of the car. However, they do say if the driver is caught going 50 km/h, you could be getting a call from police.

“We will be issuing fines, but there is a different process where the police can get involved,” says Kemp.

Police say while it’s not their cameras, they agree it could help with speed enforcement on the roads.

“Any technology that can slow people down, make the road safer. we’re in favour of,” says Dave Selby with Durham Regional Police.

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When it comes to the ASE cameras, they won’t be confined to one space, either. They will rotate every month, with goals for the pilot project to spawn more cameras in the near future.