B.C. upgrading red-light cameras at crash-prone intersections

"This is about slowing down the fastest drivers at intersections where we know that speed is a factor in causing accidents, so everyone on these busy corridors will be safer," said Public Safety Ministry Mike Farnworth.

Technology will be upgraded to stop 'fastest drivers at intersections where ... speed is a factor': minister

New signs warning drivers about red-light cameras will be installed ahead of the selected intersections. (CBC)

Red-light cameras are being upgraded at some of B.C.'s most "crash-prone" intersections to help identify vehicles speeding through intersections — and determine how fast they're going.

The province said new technology for the Intersection Safety Cameras will identify and ticket the fastest vehicles in areas that see a high number of speed-related collisions.

A statement by the Ministry of Public Safety said there's an average of 84 crashes at the selected intersections every year, with speed as a top factor.

"One of the things we want to get a sense of is just how fast people are going through intersections. We know that intersections are where some of those most horrific and dangerous crashes happen," said Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth.

"This is about slowing down the fastest drivers at intersections where we know that speed is a factor in causing accidents, so everyone on these busy corridors will be safer."

A Vancouver police officer pulls over a vehicle at the foot of the Granville Street bridge in August 2017. The Ministry of Public Safety said red-light cameras are more transparent than the old photo-radar program that ended in 2001. (Gian-Paolo Mendoza/CBC)

New signs warning drivers about the enforcement will be installed ahead of the intersections. 

See a map of current red light cameras below:

The province said the approach is more transparent than the old photo radar program that ended in 2001. Two police officers would sit at unmarked vans and issue tickets in random locations.

Four other provinces — Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Quebec — currently use automated speed enforcement.

In B.C., speed is the top contributing factor in deadly crashes provincewide.

It's photo radar, says critic

Chris Thompson, a spokesperson for Sense B.C., a group that advocates against photo radar and for higher speed limits, says the announcement is just photo radar by another name.

"You're using radio detection and ranging, which the British call "radar" to take photos of people with the eventual goal of sending them a ticket," he told On The Coast guest host Angela Sterritt.

"The only difference … with the previous photo radar system is there's no bored cop sitting in a windowless van on the side of the road."

He says the cameras will lead to more tickets "which may or may not be deserved" and will be costly to set up.

He says better ways to make intersections safer would be through intersection design — like increasing the time yellow lights are lit up on traffic signals — or through better education.

He says the red light cameras are too indiscriminate and it should be up to the judgment of traffic cops to decide if someone's speeding is actually dangerous.

He says all drivers speed from one time to another but the majority of drivers speed responsibly and aren't a threat to other drivers and shouldn't receive tickets for it.

With files from CBC Radio One's On The Coast

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