Number of Hamilton drivers ticketed for running red lights doubles

Red light cameras are capturing more Hamiltonians each year as use of the cameras expands. But the cameras seem to have little deterrent effect.

The number of Hamiltonians getting dinged for running red lights by the city's red-light cameras has almost doubled in two years. But that doesn't necessarily mean more drivers are doing it — just that more are getting caught.

In 2011, 9,729 tickets were issued for running red lights, shows a new annual legal services report. That jumped to 15,569 in 2013. Each ticket carries a $325 fine, which works out to about $5 million in revenue.

List of red-light cameras in Hamilton

(according to the website

  • Burlington St. E. and Gage Ave. N.
  • Cannon St. E. and Kenilworth Ave. N.
  • King St. E-W and Centennial Parkway S.
  • Main St. E. and Sanford Ave. S.
  • Main St. W. and Dundurn St. S.
  • Stone Church Rd. E. and Upper Wentworth S.
  • Upper Sherman Ave. and Queensdale Ave. E.
  • Upper James St. and Brantdale Ave.
  • Paramount Dr. and Highway 411-Mud Street
  • Main St. W. and Bay St. S.
  • King St. W. and Locke St. N-S
  • Cannon St. W.-York Blvd. and Hess St.
  • Cannon St. E. and Hughson St. N.

The likely cause is an increase in the number of red-light cameras around Hamilton, said city solicitor Janice Atwood-Petkovski. There are about a dozen cameras in Hamilton, but in the next month, city staff will recommend increasing that number.

Running a red light is a violation of the Provincial Offences Act. The most red light runs happen on Friday afternoons and long weekends, Atwood-Petkovski said.

The jump in numbers concerned Coun. Lloyd Ferguson of Ancaster, who pointed out that drivers get charged if they run the light by a fraction of a second, or if it's a clearer violation.

“They’re going to see this as a cash cow,” he said. “We have to figure out what the message is in that.”

Red light running puts lives at risk, Atwood-Petkovski said. A recent study shows that the cameras are "minimally effective" in stopping the practice, she said.

"The incident seems to happen whether the cameras are there or not."

The legal services report shows that the city has about 164 new litigation files were opened in 2013, up from 131 the year before.

In general, the city spent $5,138,703 on in-house legal costs in 2013 compared to $4,497,054 the year before. Outside legal costs decreased from $1,519,746 in 2012 to $837,881 in 2013.

The report also shows that the city has 19 Ontario Municipal Board dates planned for this year. In 2013, the city won 12 OMB hearings and lost three.