Three intersections in Edmonton have been fitted with safety cameras that detect both red light violations and speeding infractions.  

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Edmonton plans to install 22 more red light and speeding cameras by the end of the year. ((CBC))

The cameras began operating on Tuesday and are a change from the city's existing cameras, which only detect speeding. That means violators who try to run a red could potentially get two traffic fines — one for running the light and another for speeding.

Fines for such violations start at $350.

"People drive like maniacs in this city," said Amy Perron, a driver who spoke with CBC. "Maybe breaking somebody's pocketbook will … finally get the point [across] that we need to slow down and obey the traffic laws. Maybe the accidents will slow down a little bit in this city."

But there's controversy over whether the presence of the cameras will reduce or increase the number of collisions.

"These cameras are actually producing a lot of citations, a lot of fines," said Garry Biller, executive director of the U.S.-based National Motorists Association. "And yet, we haven't seen the positive influence on traffic safety.

"The studies that we have spent a lot of time researching indicate that accident rates go up at intersections with those type of traffic control devices. The incidence of rear-end collisions go up dramatically."

Biller said that's because motorists are so fearful of getting tickets that they slam on their brakes when the light turns yellow.

City officials said their aim is to reduce the number of more serious accidents.

"We know that collisions that are follow-too-close will cause far less injury or fatality than those that involve vehicles that meet at right angles in intersections," said Gerry Shimko, executive director of Edmonton's traffic safety office.

The city plans to install 22 more intersection safety cameras by the end of the year.