A week after our most recent public works meeting approving the use of red light cameras, I was driving home around the dinner hour and caught my self reflecting on whether or not were right for Niagara? Do we really need these in our communities? It didn’t take long to have my answer.

Nearly two minutes later a car flew by me going at least 30 kilometres over the limit, weaving back and forth between lanes. A mere ten minutes later, another car completely blew through a stop sign. It seems there’s no shortage of drivers out there willing to ignore the rules of the road.

Road safety has been one of the most important issues brought up in discussions with my constituents. Last term Niagara Region approved participation in the Vision Zero program, a multi-national program that aims to reduce fatalities and serious injuries involving road traffic. We’ve already approved a number of community safety zones across Niagara that will be set up with photo radar. This technology will be implemented on roads with speed limits under 80 km/hr that are close to schools later in the year. Pelham, unfortunately, was not on the initial community safety zone list. But as the program expands, we’ll most likely be added to the list.

In contrast, we were on the list for a red light camera (RLCs). There are also a few slated in our bordering communities. RLCs have a proven history of improving safety at signalized intersections, with published studies reporting reductions such as a 37.7% decrease in angle collisions, 32.4% decrease in severe (fatal and injury) collisions, and an overall decrease of 8.4% in total collisions. Ten sites were approved based on frequency and severity of accidents, as well as creating sites across Niagara to more generally encourage safe driving. Red light camera sites include:

  • Pelham/West Lincoln: Highway 20 and Victoria Avenue;
  • Welland (2): Prince Charles Drive at Lincoln Street; and Niagara Street at Quaker Road.
  • Lincoln: Ontario Street at South Service Road;
  • Fort Erie: Garrison Road at Pettit Road and Daytona Drive;
  • Grimsby: Christie Street and South Service Road;
    Niagara Falls (2): Lundy’s Lane at Garner Road; Stanley Avenue and Dunn Street;
    St. Catharines (2): St. Paul Street West at First Street Louth; and Niagara Street at Parnell Road;

We estimate this technology will be in place this fall. How does it work? The system takes two different images. One image at the stop bar that shows a vehicle has approached the intersection and completely stopped. The second image is captured if the vehicle proceeds when the red light is displayed. A sensor also captures the vehicle’s speed to ensure accuracy. It will not capture a car that advances through a yellow light.

Keep an eye out for notifications the technology is in place (there will be some communications issued from the Region). Many communities already feature this technology, but this will mark a significant shift in the tools Niagara has to deal with speeding and encourage road safety.

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