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Tuesday, May 21, 2024
Speed cameras having the desired effect, region says
Drivers are slowing down since the Region's speedn enforcement cameras first went live last September. FILE
A speed camera located on York Road near St. Davids Public School went live on April 15. FILE

Drivers are slowing down to avoid tickets: staff report

Lead-footed drivers appear to be getting the message and slowing down after Niagara Region initiated its automated speed enforcement program last September.

The program, part of the region’s Vision Zero road safety strategy, involves four cameras being deployed in different municipalities.

The cameras have been rotating to different locations throughout the region, located in the region’s 13 community safety zones, usually located near schools.

In Niagara-on-the-Lake, a speed camera is currently active on York Road near St. Davids Public School.

Earlier this year, a camera was in service on Niagara Stone Road in front of Crossroads Public School.

In a report to the region’s public works committee outlining the results of the speed camera program, preliminary data showed the presence of the cameras have had an effect on driver speed.

The program is responsible for an average seven kilometres an hour speed reduction (13 per cent) and a corresponding reduction of speeding violations from 181 in September (when the program began) to just 60 in December, a decrease of 67 per cent.

At the Niagara Stone Road location, the drop in speed exceeded the average – dropping 11 km/h to 46 from 57 during the time the camera was active.

That change impressed Lord Mayor Gary Zalepa.

“It’s a pretty good indication the program is working and speeds are being affected,” he said.

And even when drivers have been caught speeding and issued a ticket, he said he expects the presence of cameras will bring about lasting change in driver behaviour.

“If I got a ticket, I’d be much more aware and focus on not getting another one,” he said.

That’s something the report bears out. It states that the reduced speeds continued even after a camera was moved to another location.

“Even moderate changes in speed can make a huge difference in safety when it comes to vulnerable road users,” said Frank Tassone, the region’s director of transportation, the department overseeing the Vision Zero initiative.

Lowering driver speed is “a key factor” in working toward reducing, and eventually eliminating, serious injuries and deaths on regional roads, he said.

While the region has painted a positive picture of its road safety strategy, drivers who were ticketed have shown to be frustrated, with many telling The Lake Report just how they felt back in March.

One driver complained of receiving a ticket for going 51 km/h on Niagara Stone Road despite Crossroads being closed for a professional activity day while another thought a $257.50 fine received for driving 67 km/h in the 40 km/h zone was “disproportionately high.”

Encouraged by the early results, however, the region plans to expand the program with the addition of four more cameras being added each year in 2024 and 2025.

Additionally, cameras will be added to 12 more of the region’s community safety zones, bringing the total to 25.

The program will expand to municipally owned roads starting in either mid-2025 or early 2026.

Expansion will come at a cost, however. The initial four cameras will cost $114,948 annually for the next five years while adding four cameras next year will add $133,152 annually for 54 months.

The final cameras added in 2026 will result in a cost of $145,433 annually for 42 months. 

The costs associated with the and its expansion will be off-set by fines collected through the program, the region states.

In the event fines exceed costs of the program, funds will be invested in other road safety measures that are a part of Vision Zero.

So, how does automated speed enforcement work?

Speed cameras capture a digital image and record the speed of drivers in community safety zones.

This information is provided to a municipally-run joint processing centre where provincial offence officers confirm a speeding violation has occurred and issue tickets to those in violation of the posted speed limit.

Niagara provincial offences court is responsible for managing those charges including prosecution of disputed charges and collection of fines. 

Regional chair Jim Bradley said he was encouraged by the “promising” results of the program.

“As councillors, far too often we hear concerns from constituents about drivers speeding through communities across the region,” he said, adding that the early results provide the region with the “confidence” to expand the program.

hutton@niagaranow.com

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