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December 17, 1998

Province OKs red light cameras

By JAMES WALLACE - Queen's Park Bureau

TORONTO -- Municipalities will get the power to replace police with red light cameras in the new year.

The Tory government has embraced the photo radar technology it reviled in opposition and will pass a red light camera law this week.

The province is also considering measures to allow car owners to "snitch" on anyone who borrows the vehicle and gets a ticket.

"Driving through red lights is dangerous and unacceptable, as are all forms of aggressive driving," Transportation Minister Tony Clement told the Legislature yesterday. "This proposed legislation, if passed, will allow municipalities to test, for up to two years, the effectiveness of red light cameras in comparison to traditional on-road enforcement."

Roger Laporte of Cumberland has lobbied at Queen's Park and regional council for the installation of red light cameras.

Laporte's son, Michel, 40, died after being broadsided by a cube van at the corner of Innes Rd. and Tenth Line Rd. in Orleans on May 8, 1997.

Clement said photo radar cameras could be operating in Toronto and other cities by January or February. Municipalities will have to pay for the cameras.

To offset that cost, the Insurance Bureau of Canada has offered up to $1 million in funding. Local councils will also earn 100% of the revenue generated by cameras.

I stress that I do not promote running red lights. But I do doubt that red light cameras are the right answer to this serious problem. Crashes occur at intersections because drivers fail to see a red light due to too many distractions. However, the majority of red light running is when drivers hurry through an intersection the split second after the light just turns red. Even the most senseless driver won't try to drive into a crowded intersection deliberately. Red light cameras (and their decoys) won't solve the distracted driver problem, which is what is killing people. The solution is to improve the design of the intersection, and to post more warning signs ahead so that drivers won't fail to heed a red light.

I realize the motivation behind red light cameras is a good one, but it is very quickly being recognized as a new cash cow for the insurance industry. Why is the Insurance Bureau of Canada so quick to offer $1 million in funding to support this program? Because the insurance surchages resulting from conviction of running red lights will more than offset this initial "investment". If you don't already know, the Insurance Bureau of Canada is a group which represents the common interest of the insurance industry, which is to make as much profit as possible, from you, the motorist.

If you oppose red light cameras, please write to your MPs and voice out your concern.

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