Toronto has moved its 50 automated speed enforcement cameras to new spots in the city in the hopes of getting drivers to slow down.
The city says it rotated its cameras throughout May in an attempt to increase safety on city streets, but one road safety advocate says more measures are needed to protect pedestrians and cyclists in Toronto. Enforcement at the new locations will begin in June.
City spokesperson Hakeem Muhammad said the point of rotating cameras is to deter drivers from speeding.
“As you know, automated speed enforcement is an efficient, data-driven, non-invasive tool in the city’s Vision Zero toolbox that is intended to reduce speeding, to increase speed compliance, to alter driver behaviour and to raise public awareness about the need to slow down,” Muhammad said on Sunday.
The city has published the new locations on its website. Warning signs have been placed at all new locations to warn drivers in advance. The automated speed cameras, which are mobile, are moved every three to six months within each ward.
Muhammad said the devices issued a total of 81,557 tickets in the first three months of 2021.
According to preliminary data, from July 2020 to October 2020, Toronto saw a 75 per cent reduction in the number of tickets issued over time after cameras were put in place at specific locations.
“We are confident from what we are seeing that we will have a repetition of this result,” he said.
But Albert Koehl, a member of Avenue Road Safety Coalition, said speed cameras are just one part of the solution.
“The other part of the answer is road design,” Koehl said.
“What we want is wider sidewalks to make it safe for people. And the result of wider sidewalks would mean a narrowed road, which will be an important visual cue for people to slow down,” he added.
The Avenue Road Safety Coalition has been working to reduce the number of lanes along a section of Avenue Road, between Bloor Street West and St. Clair Avenue West, which Koehl has described as “essentially a six-lane highway.”
In a tweet on Sunday, Mayor John Tory drew attention to the problem of speeding in Toronto, a problem that has persisted in the city during the pandemic and despite a stay-at-home order still in place in Ontario.
“Far too many drivers are speeding on our roads. Our speed cameras are one way we are increasing enforcement to crack down on this dangerous behaviour,” Tory said.
The city says cameras are placed at locations where data shows that speeding and crashes are a problem.
The city first installed its cameras in December 2019 in community safety zones near schools as part of its Vision Zero plan to eliminate traffic-related fatalities. Two units — 50 in total — were placed in each ward with the ability to record licence plates and mail out tickets to speeders.
System issues tickets to owners of vehicles
On its website, the city says automated speed enforcement is a system that uses a camera and a speed measurement device to detect and capture images of vehicles going over the speed limit. The system is focused on altering driver behaviour to decrease speeding and increase safety.
Provincial offences officers review images taken by the system, then issue tickets to the owners of the vehicles regardless of who was driving.
When convicted, a driver is fined. The fine corresponds to the speed that the vehicle was travelling. No demerit points are issued and the registered owners’ driving record is not affected.