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Niagara Falls
Wednesday, April 17, 2024
Ticketed drivers unhappy with region’s speed camera crackdown
Readers have received tickets for exceeding the 40 km/h limit in front of Crossroads Public School. The fines varied depending on how much they were over the limit. SUPPLIED

For the past three months, a speed camera near Crossroads Public School has been targeting drivers who exceed the speed limit.

It’s all part of a Niagara Region program to boost road safety and reduce speeding.

And it all begins with an unwelcome letter that arrives with the ticket and a photo of their vehicle.

Many drivers are unhappy with the how the program operates, with complaints about the warning signs, enforcement on non-school days, amount of their fines, lack of blinking lights and the roadblocks they incur trying to pay their speeding tickets.

Niagara-on-the-Lake resident Ernest Tucker told us about receiving an $85 ticket for doing 53 km/h in the 40 km/h zone at 1:45 p.m. on a school day:

“Fair enough, I was speeding and must pay for it, although I know of no police officer who would offer other than a warning for travelling at less than 32 mph.”

“The frustration mounted, however, when I tried to pay the ticket. The “date of deemed service” was March 12, so I went online to pay. When I entered my ticket number, the site refused to accept it. Rereading my ticket, I determined that payment could be made three days after the date of deemed service, so I tried again March 15. And 18th. And 19th. And 20th.”

“So, I drove to Welland to pay my ticket in person. The officer guiding me through the metal detector responded to my comments about my inability to pay online by saying, “Yes, you have to wait a while.” I pointed out that I had waited the required three days, plus an additional five, to the point where I was running out of time before additional penalties would be levied for late payment.”

“However, when I gained access to a staff member to actually pay my fine, the truth came out. “Oh, you can’t pay online yet. The system isn’t in place,” she told me. This, despite all the verbiage on the actual ticket explaining precisely how to pay online. So, it would seem the 36-kilometre drive was necessary after all.”

We received dozens of messages from people who received tickets. Here are some of their stories:

“I was clocked at 57 in the posted 40 on Feb. 23. The plain brown envelope arrived March 17 with a fine of around $110. The most frustrating thing is you require the use of a magnifying glass to view it to find your infraction number and payment code on the paperwork. You cannot pay it the day you get it, which also is stated in very minute print. I get it, safety first. But try not to aggravate the people just trying to pay their debt to society. I’m learning to slow down in the Old Town.”

“I got a ticket for going 51km/h at 9:42 a.m. on Feb. 16 when it was a PD Day and there were no kids at school.”

“I got an unfortunate surprise in the mail yesterday with a ticket for $85. I was going 53 in what I believed was a 50 zone but apparently it is 40. I am unhappy and I’ve heard that lots of people are getting dinged. The sign that says is 40 is hidden behind the 50 and is very close to where the camera is.”

“On Feb. 22 at 12:05 p.m., I got a $95 speeding ticket for driving 55 km/h past the camera. I have lived in NOTL since 1964 and drive past Crossroads school, as much as four to six times a day, between my part-time job and Penner lumber. I totally respect the slower speed in front of the school and I try to put my cruise control to 40 each time I pass it. I have no excuse and will pay the fine.”

“On Feb. 20 at 11:37 a.m. I was photographed and clocked going 67 in a posted 40 zone. I have been fined $257.50. The set fine is $202.50 with victim fine surcharge and costs of $55 on top. That sounds disproportionately large to me.”

“I most likely was unintentionally driving above the limit. I do question why the signage is so small and insignificant. I hope the money collected for this infraction will be used to replace the signs and add flashing lights at the appropriate time of day (school hours).”

“I will pay the ticket, but I find the signs do not do a good job informing drivers of how it works, especially the speed change from 40 to 50 km/h at certain hours. Better signage might help. They might also give drivers a warning ticket for a first offence.”

“I got a ticket going 51 km/h on Feb. 16 at 9:42 a.m. My kids go to Crossroads, so I’m supportive of a reduced speed through a school zone when children are present. However, Feb. 16 was a PD day and there were no kids at the school.”

“I was so shocked because I didn’t think I was speeding especially since it wasn’t when buses were out or kids were leaving the schoolyard.  But I do remember a flash going off as I passed the camera, and thought I’m not speeding, I’m going 50 km/h. But my ticket is for 54 in a 40. The worst thing is the cost — $90 is way too high. I quietly paid it, what can you do?”

“Our ticket was $75 for going 51 in a 40. Ridiculous cash grab. We will fight it.”

“It is a big one — $235 for doing 62 km/h in a 40 zone, on Feb. 15. The camera is a money grabber. I picked option #2 and am hoping to reduce the amount of the ticket.”

“I’m the lucky recipient of two speeding tickets so far for a total of $325. I wonder if more are on the way. The signage is a bit misleading: the 50 km/hr is very clear but you really have to read the fine print/pay attention and notice the 40 km/h.  I completely support the reduced speed around the school. It’s just an unfortunate result for my family that we weren’t more informed. I now put on cruise control in the area and hope other drivers are not too irritated. Although the many pages of paperwork indicate you can pay online, you actually can’t. The provided URL takes you in a loop. I opted to pay by mail and am keeping my fingers crossed that I am not charged a late fee.”

“Haven’t had a ticket, however if public safety is the primary reason for the speed cam, why were the flashing 40 zone warning lights removed? A much better alert system than the signs that replaced them, particularly for visitors to the town. It would be very interesting to check the before and after tickets stats and revenue.”

The flashing light, still in use all over Ontario, is about the best way there is to communicate the time vs. current speed limit. Could they not have just left the light and reprogrammed the controller?”

“I received a speeding ticket at Crossroads —$115 for driving at 58 km/h. I paid by mail as the internet connection on the ticket did not work.”

“I received a ticket totalling $180 includindg $30 surcharge for going 60 in a 40 km/h zone on Family Day. What a cash grab. I am local but if I was a tourist, I’d never come back.”

The issue is not how fast you travel in the zone, but what safety issues are being resolved. This section of the highway has an insignificant number of accidents. The camera does nothing to enhance the safety of the school zone. These cameras generate a laundry list of other problems, including people bypassing them by driving on less-safe roads. Driving farther and wasting fuel, increasing our carbon footprint. The cameras are nothing but a money grab. This will damage our tourism industry.”

“I got a ticket and hopefully will have it reduced with an early prosecutor’s meeting. If the cameras are meant to reduce speeds in a community safety zone, then the police should consider getting more cameras around all sections of the community. My beef is that I received a ticket on a stat holiday — no school, no kids, no need for cameras.”

Until recently, the signage was clear. The speed in front of the school was 50 km/h unless the flashing lights indicated a reduced speed of 40 km/h. Simple and clear. On Feb. 23, I was proceeding past the school, no lights were flashing, I was driving 50 km/h, which I thought was the limit. So, I was surprised when I received a $75 fine in the mail.”

“On Feb. 13 my husband was visiting the area and not realizing the speed of 40 km/h is enforced all day as there was no flashing light and he didn’t know about the speed cam. He was travelling 52 km/h and received a ticket for $60 plus $20 victim fine surcharge for a total of $80. He was shocked when the ticket arrived in the mail three weeks later as he hasn’t had a speeding ticket in many, many years.”

“I have lived in NOTL for 45 years and never complained publicly about anything in town, but this now has really got me upset. We try to support businesses in Virgil, my family and I love buying groceries in town and enjoying local coffee houses. My wife and son each received a ticket each in late February for going 53 and 52 km/h. Total fines were $85 and $80 respectively. We will pay the fine, but we will take action to avoid Virgil. I believe these automated cameras are a soft way to get extra money into coffers in the guise of safety. We are all pro safety but also common sense.”

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