Blue Line

Toronto has speeding problem, mayor says as automated speed cameras roll out

September 8, 2020  By The Canadian Press

Toronto has a speeding problem, the city’s mayor said Tuesday after officials analyzed the first month of data from automated speed cameras that have been rolled out.

Mayor John Tory said the cameras have been operational in 50 school zones across the city since July 6.

Over the following month the automated machines issued more than 22,000 tickets, he said.

“These are very sobering numbers and this is a very serious problem that we collectively as a city have to come to grips with,” Tory said.

The cameras were installed just before the pandemic hit, but weren’t being used until the summer due to COVID-19, he said.

There were more than 2,000 repeat offenders in the first month the speeding cameras were turned on, including one vehicle that was issued 12 tickets.

He said one camera in northwest Toronto near two schools issued more than 2,700 tickets.

The highest speed the cameras recorded came at the same spot where a driver was nabbed going nearly 50 km/h over the posted 40 km/h limit.

“Who would drive in the city near two schools at 50 km/h above the limit?” Tory said.

The mayor said he is hopeful the cameras will alter behaviour.

“The data tells a frustrating story, but I’m confident that will ultimately will lead to a change in behaviour, which is the whole idea,” Tory said.

It has taken years to get the automated speed cameras on Toronto’s streets.

In 2016, Toronto’s city council formally requested the province to allow it to use the technology as part of its overall strategy to eliminate road fatalities and serious injuries.

In 2017, the Liberal government at the time amended the Highway Traffic Act to allow for use of the cameras and in late November 2019, the Conservative government made it law to allow municipalities to operate the machines in certain spots, dubbed community safety zones.

Toronto re-zoned about 750 elementary schools to community safety zones in order to comply with provincial regulations.

The tickets do not come with the loss of demerit points and do not affect a person’s driving record.

Toronto police got rid of its traffic enforcement squad in 2013, but brought it back temporarily after an outcry from advocates last year amid growing pedestrian and cyclists deaths across the city.

Police said Monday a permanent squad with highly visible officers will be out on the streets later this fall.

“The officers will conduct intelligence-led enforcement activities in locations determined by data from collisions, speed monitoring and more,” Toronto police said in a statement.

In 2019, six people died and 40 more were seriously hurt in collisions where speed was a factor, according to Toronto police data.

The year before, speed was a factor in collisions where 16 people died and 58 people suffered major injuries.

– Liam Casey

This article by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 8, 2020.

The Canadian Press Enterprises Inc., 2020

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