Toronto’s red light cameras catch a record number of red light runners in 2017
The number of charges laid through the city’s red light camera program surged last year to more than 60,000, a figure that was nearly double those laid in 2016 and appears to be a record high.
The dramatic increase in charges, each of which comes with a $325 fine, is mostly the result of the city doubling the number of cameras deployed at intersections throughout the city last year. There are now about 150 of the devices strategically placed at locations that have experienced a higher number of collisions of the kind attributed to red light running.
Councillor Jaye Robinson said the program is a key part of the city’s Vision Zero road safety plan, which aims to eliminate traffic deaths.
“Red light cameras have actually been very successful at saving lives and reducing injuries attributed to red light running,” said Robinson, who as public works chair spearheaded the Vision Zero plan this term. She moved a motion at council in June to have staff look into further expanding the camera program.
“We have a serious challenge in this city with pedestrians, cyclists and even motorists losing their lives. We have to roll out every tool we can to counter that.”
The city says collisions resulting in serious injuries have been reduced by 23 per cent and ones that result in death by 40 per cent at intersections where the devices have been installed.
Toronto began its red light camera program in 2000 with 10 cameras. The 60,484 charges laid last year were the most in the past decade, according to city data that goes back to 2007. The previous high was 35,680 recorded in 2016.
The camera that resulted in the most charges last year was at the intersection of Richmond St. E. and Parliament St., with 3,994. The camera at Danforth Ave. and Greenwood Ave. resulted in the second most charges, with 3,586, while the one at Lower Jarvis and the Esplanade was third with 2,708.
City spokesperson Susan Pape said 2017 was a “transition year” for the program, and several cameras were either shut down or didn’t start operating until midway through the year, so the number of charges at each intersection doesn’t necessarily indicate how many drivers ran red lights there.
The city says the cameras are set up to only catch drivers who enter an intersection after the light turns red. Drivers already in the intersection when the light changes — those waiting to turn, for instance — aren’t penalized. An officer reviews the images captured by the cameras before mailing a ticket.