By Kevin Werner, News Staff
Hamilton drivers are getting caught in record numbers as they attempt to beat red lights, while boosting the city’s revenue by over $5 million.
According to the city’s legal department, of the 17,000 total Provincial Offense Act charges laid by various agencies overseen by the city last year, over 15,500 charges were against red light runners.
And those charges are rising. In 2011 the charges for people caught running a red light was 9,729, out of a total of 11,300 Provincial Offense Act charges laid during the year. In 2012, the total charges were 14,600, with 13,500 of them were for people running red lights. And with a ticket set by the province at $325, the city made just over $5 million last year.
“That is such a significant spike,” said Ancaster councillor Lloyd Ferguson. “(Red light charges) have gone up exponentially.
Ferguson wondered about the effectiveness of the current 12 cameras to deter drivers from running red lights if the number of charges kept climbing.
Janice Atwood-Petkovski, the city’s lawyer who presented the report, acknowledged based on the data, the cameras don’t reduce all red-light running.
“There will be people who will persist in doing it,” she said.
Hamiltonbecame one of six municipalities in 2000 that agree in a pilot program to install red light cameras. The city initially had two cameras that rotated through eight locations. The city then added 12 cameras spread out in the downtown core fromHughson Streetand Highway 403 andMain Streetand Cannon, and on the Mountain from Upper James to Paramount. Eight of the cameras are fixed, with four cameras rotating through a number of sites. In 2011, the city added eight new locations, including Upper Ottawa and Mountain Brow and Garth Street and Limeridge. City councillors agreed three years ago to extend the red light camera contract with Traffipax until 2017.
The intersections are identified for a camera based upon the high number of accidents, a pattern of accidents, and the ability to install the cameras.
Critics have argued the cameras are nothing more than a cash grab by the city. They also argue the cameras don’t eliminate accidents. While t-bone collisions have dropped, rear-end collisions have been rising.