By Ben SpurrTransportation Reporter
Tue., Sept. 8, 2020timer3 min. read
Toronto’s new photo-radar program nabbed more than 22,000 speeders in its first month of operation, with thousands of repeat offenders netting more than one ticket.
Mayor John Tory released the figures at a press conference outside Keelesdale Public School in York South-Weston on Tuesday morning that was intended to draw attention to road safety issues ahead of kids going back to school next week.
The city activated 50 automated speed enforcement cameras on streets near schools on July 6. Between then and August 5, the devices resulted in 22,301 speeding tickets, or about 700 per day. That was despite there being fewer drivers on the road during the COVID-19 pandemic.
A single camera on Renforth Drive in Etobicoke resulted in 2,786 tickets, the most of any location and nearly 13 per cent of the total. That device also clocked the worst speeder, who was caught driving 89 km/h in a 40 km/h zone, and issued the highest fine, at $718. The camera outside Keelesdale logged the second-most tickets, with about 1,800.
“The data tells a frustrating story but I’m confident that it will ultimately lead to a change of behaviour, which is the whole idea,” said Tory.
“For those who hate getting a ticket, or who dislike automated speed enforcement cameras, I have a very simple message. Slow down and observe the speed limit, and you won’t find them to be a problem for you.”
Many of those nabbed in the program’s first month were repeat offenders. More than 2,200 drivers received more than one ticket. One vehicle owner was issued 12 tickets in the one-month period after their car was caught speeding outside Tom Longboat Junior Public School on Crow Trail in Scarborough.
Tickets the city issues through the cameras are sent to the owner of the vehicle, because the devices can’t determine who was behind the wheel at the time of the offence. The tickets, which are issued under the Provincial Offences Act, don’t result in any demerit points, meaning drivers won’t lose their licences no matter how many times they’re caught through the program.
The mayor said it was too soon for the city to determine whether the cameras are reducing the incidence of speeding, but he believes fines will be more effective in changing drivers’ behaviour than the warning letters the city issued during the program’s first stage.
Tory said “we’re going to have to give it a couple of more months” but he hoped the fines would send drivers such a powerful message that they slow down and “we’re giving no tickets before long.”
Premier Doug Ford’s government granted Toronto the authority to use automated speed enforcement cameras in December after years of lobbying by Tory and other city officials who argued the devices would be more efficient than deploying officers with radar guns.
The city intended to begin sending drivers tickets earlier this year, but staffing shortages caused by COVID-19 delayed the program’s full activation by a few months.
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The cameras are installed on local, collector and arterial roads in Community Safety Zones near schools, with two in each ward. The program has been met with some opposition. A handful of the devices have been vandalized or even stolen, which is no small feat given each one weighs 365 kilograms.
With files from David Rider.
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