Province to upgrade red light cameras to catch speeders at high-crash intersections

Those who feel the need for speed could soon find themselves facing a fine without ever getting pulled over by a police officer.

The B.C. government is looking at upgrading red light cameras to also catch drivers flying through the province’s most crash-prone intersections.

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According to the province, an average of 84 crashes take place annually at each of the 140 intersections that already have a red light camera in place. Speed is a top contributing factor in these crashes with an average of 10,500 vehicles going at least 30 kilometres an hour over the posted speed limit.

In an attempt to crack down on drivers speeding through some the of province’s most crash-prone intersections, the government is upgrading some of those existing red light cameras to identify and ticket the vehicles going the fastest. Once the cameras are upgraded, signs will warn approaching drivers about the enhanced enforcement.

The government said the move is more “transparent” than the previous photo radar program that ended in 2001.

“It used unmarked vans in random locations, issued tickets at low speeding thresholds and tied up police resources with two officers staffing each van,” the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General said in a statement.

“This is about slowing down the fastest drivers at intersections where we know that speed is a factor in causing accidents, so everyone on these busy corridors will be safer,” Solicitor General Mike Farnworth said in a press release. “There is very little public sympathy for those who flout the law and speed excessively through known, high-crash intersections. The signs will be there to warn you. If you ignore them and put others in danger, you will be ticketed.”

Four other provinces, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Quebec, currently use automated speed enforcement. In Quebec pilot testing resulted in a 12 km/h reduction in average vehicle speed, a 99 per cent reduction in excessive speeding, an 84 per cent reduction in red-light violations and a 20 to 30 per cent reduction in crashes.

The ministry also said that working to reduce crashes will have a positive impact on ICBC’s claims costs.

“The pressure on ICBC’s insurance rates starts in one place — the rapid increase on the number of crashes occurring around our province, more than 900 per day,” Joy MacPhail, ICBC chair, said in a press release. “We believe this road safety enhancement will have a positive impact on reducing some of the most serious crashes occurring at some of the highest-risk crash intersections in B.C.”

@JessicaEKerr

jkerr@vancourier.com

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