SMILE FOR THE CAMERA
City launching photo radar program
Smile speeders: It won’t be long before you’ll be captured on camera.
The City of Toronto is poised to launch photo radar later this year, and has designated more than 700 locations that would be eligible for Automated Speed Enforcement (ASE).
Because photo radar will be located in designated Community Safety Zones around schools, normal speeding fines will be doubled.
The tickets will be mailed to the owner of the vehicle, who may or may not be the driver.
Demerit points and the immediate licence suspensions and impoundments mandated by the Highway Traffic Act for drivers caught travelling at high rates of speed would not apply with photo radar, the Ontario Ministry of Transportation (MTO) confirmed.
Fines could range from $21 for going one km/h over the posted speed limit to $1,105plus for 50 km/h or more.
City spokesman Eric Holmes said council authorized the creation of 754 new Community Safety Zones last year around elementary schools.
A pilot program currently in place — no fines are issued — wraps up later this month.
“At the time of the pilot launch in September, staff anticipated that full program implementation would be late-2019,” Holmes said in an e-mail.
The city could not provide any information yet on how many zones will receive photo radar and whether it would operate around the clock.
Photo radar was introduced to the province’s major highways in the early 1990s by Bob Rae’s NDP government, but the controversial project was scrapped by Mike Harris’ Progressive Conservatives. One of the complaints at the time was — that unlike a police — the program did not stop speeding drivers at the time of an offence but, instead, sent them a bill for it later.
ASE is being implemented under Toronto’s Vision Zero strategy to reduce traffic fatalities.
The Doug Ford government has agreed to allow the city to bring in photo radar around schools.
MOT pokesman Bob Nichols said the province addresses speeding with a combination of stringent penalties, traffic engineering, public education and support for law enforcement.
“Drivers receive incrementally more severe fines corresponding to how fast they are travelling above the speed limit,” Nichols said in an e-mail.
“In addition to this, fines double in community safety zones, portions of the roadway where public safety is of special concern which may lie near schools, daycares, parks, playgrounds, or hospitals. These fines likewise double in designated construction zones while workers are present.”
Street racing penalties — for those going 50 km/h or more over the speed limit — include immediate seven-day suspensions and vehicle impoundments, and if convicted, fines and a minimum two-year licence suspensions, Nichols said. Ontario has also boosted fines for distracted driving this year to a minimum of $615 for a first offence that is not challenged in court.