What are Red Light Cameras?
Most car accidents leading to high rates of death and severe injuries to pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists happen at the intersections. Enforcing road safety enhancement, typically the immediate role of police officers, can be costly. And, of course, we cannot expect police officers to be at every intersection, at every second.
Installing red light cameras to enhance safety provides a reason to smile. They are expected to encourage positive driving behaviours of motorists and reduce severe collisions at intersections.
Red light cameras, an automated enforcement tool that focuses on improving a driver behaviour, have lowered the rate of accidents and injuries by at least 25%.
How Red Light Cameras Work
According to research findings by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), a non-profit organization that focuses on vehicles and technology research to ease traffic-related injuries, red light cameras reduce red light running and save lives.
Red light cameras are installed at busy intersections to curb accidents caused by driver recklessness. The cameras capture two photos of vehicles that violate a red light signal: one of the drivers and another of the vehicle’s licence plate.
Provincial offences officers then review the images to verify the applicability of charges. If confirmed, the registered owner is then notified through the mail of a red camera ticket with information about the offence date, exact offence time, the photos of the offending car and information about how to pay or contest the charge.
The ticket with a hefty fine
The redlight tickets are only issued to only those motorists who cross the stop bar and move to the intersection while the red light signal is on.
For clarity, those motorists who enter the intersection when the signal is green or amber or the ones that stop on or slightly past the stop bar, will not be issued with a ticket.
The current penalty set for those disregarding a red light in Kingston is $325 with no impact on demerit points (the charges apply regardless of who the driver was at the time of the offence), which is inclusive of the $260 that goes to the City of Kingston, the Province gets $60 for a victim tax, plus $5 for Court costs.
Interested in challenging a ticket charge?
Note: While our office does not handle matters of this nature, we encourage you to consult a lawyer or paralegal as soon as you receive a ticket if you plan to dispute the charge.
Would you like to contest the red light ticket? You may need to make several court appearances to clear your name.
Without wasting much time, let’s dive into how you can navigate through the court process:
Preparing for your Hearing
We are in an era where forgery and identity theft are becoming popular, with con artists mailing fake tickets to obtain personal information. You should check whether the details like your name and address are accurate.
Confirm the ticket’s authenticity by contacting the agency that issued the traffic ticket, such as the local police department or Provincial Offences Court. Have your ticket ready; check your court date, the time, and the day as this usually coincides with the last day to pay the penalty, if you so wish.
On your hearing date, you must present your plea: whether you’re (1) guilty, (2) guilty, with an explanation or (3) not guilty. Admitting being guilty with an explanation can make the court consider the circumstances and conditions of your offense resulting in penalty reduction.
Preparing to Contest the Ticket
The court sets a date for your hearing, so you need to familiarize yourself with how the red light camera works. Request complete disclosure (evidence) available. Save all your relevant paperwork.
Your Defence in Court
You should get your evidence ready, check all the paperwork for the details of your hearing and be punctual to court. Be prepared, with or without the assistance of counsel, to describe the event and present evidence in defence of the charge.
Kingston’s Red Light Camera Program
Red light running is one of the reasons that cause disastrous collisions at intersections leading to high rates of death and serious injuries. The introduction of red light cameras has been on the political radar for decades. Red light cameras finally made their way to Kingston streets in March 2022.
The same program has been in place in other cities across Ontario, where they have proven to be reliable, consistent, and most vital to reduce collisions at high traffic intersections.
Under the Kingston program, there are ten designated accident-prone intersections where red light cameras installation are, including Bayridge Drive and Taylor Kidd Boulevard, John Counter, and Sir John A., Princess and Centennial Road and Johnson and Barrie.
Each focuses on one approach at the intersection. The program and its technology is costly though it is to expected to be at least revenue-neutral which means the expected number of tickets issued intends to cover the cost of the cameras.
The Kingston program will run for 5-years, and the city estimates it will cost $3.1 million, or nearly $632,000 per year, to set up and maintain. The process has commenced in part based on the experience and data collected from eight other Ontario municipalities where the use of red light cameras has taken root.
There are financial risks to taxpayers though the city officials expect the program to pay for itself. They consider that each camera issues 0.7 tickets daily to cover all operational program costs. As the motorists enlighten themselves, the chances for fewer ticket issued translates to a decline in revenue collection in 5-year period.
Impact on Safety
Between 50 to 100 people get killed every year in Canada in crashes that involve red light running. It is impractical to have police officers stationed at intersections. The red light camera is the most effective way to reduce red light running.
Cameras reduce the number of side-impact accidents and overall crash severity, and the rate of collisions causing death, injury, or property damage. They reduce total fatal crashes, too.
Red light cameras are crucial in traffic reduction in urban environments, regardless of whether they are a deterrent or a penalty.
There are supporters and opponents to red light camera programs. Each citing reasons for and against. Those in support say they reduce accidents at intersections while opponents say they have little impact on safety and are merely income generators akin to another tax.
According to Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), red light cameras have lowered red light offenses by about 40-50% and injury-related crashes by 25-30%. The red light cameras are used globally.
Taxes are inevitable. Traffic deaths are not. Redlight cameras effectively aid law enforcement in catching and convicting speeders and red light runners and instill safe driving practices.
About the Author
Gavin Cosgrove is a graduate of Holy Cross Catholic Secondary School in Kingston. Upon graduation, he attended Manhattan College (New York, NY) on an athletic scholarship where he competed in track and field. Gavin completed his legal studies at the University of New Brunswick.
Gavin joined Bergeron Clifford in the summer of 2009 and is now a partner with our firm.
Gavin is a proud member of the Ontario Trial Lawyers Association, the Frontenac Law Association, the County of Carleton Law Association, The Advocates’ Society, and the County of Lanark Law Association. He represents innocent victims of negligence in auto cases, medical malpractice and negligence cases.