Fredericton residents would welcome red-light cameras as a way to catch bad drivers, a recent survey suggests.

Seventy-seven per cent of the people taking part in the survey were "completely" or "mostly" in support of using cameras to catch drivers who run red lights.

Another 20 per cent opposed installing cameras, and two per cent didn't know.

Red-light cameras are typically set up in intersections and record the licence plates of vehicle that run red lights. The owners of the vehicles are then sent tickets.

Don Mills, CEO of Corporate Research Associates, said he was surprised by the overwhelming support for the cameras.

Secret cameras installed by the City of Fredericton at two local intersections two years ago revealed that local drivers have a speeding problem. 

For two days in the fall of 2015, the city had cameras at Regent and Brunswick streets and at Westmorland and Queen streets. 

The city tested the technology with cameras provided by Edmonton, where severe collisions were reduced by 20 per cent after the installation of cameras several years ago.

A message to province

Coun. Stephen Chase, who is chair of the city's public safety and environment committee, welcomed the news that so many people appear to favour reducing motor vehicle accidents with the help of new technology.

"I think everybody was surprised by the number, but I think at the same time almost everybody would tell you about their observations of people running red lights and speeding through intersections and on streets," Chase. 

'This survey sends an important message to the New Brunswick government, that the Motor Vehicle Act needs to be updated.' - Stephen Chase, Fredericton councillor

Every year, accidents at local intersections result in an average of $25 million in society costs, which include the costs of personal injuries, property damage, lost wages, and costs to the health and social services system, Chase said.

"That doesn't take into account death," he said. "You can't measure the cost of death … we're not putting a price tag on death." 

Chase said with four cameras installed at the city's most dangerous intersections, it would cost around $250,000 at each intersection.

But there's one little problem.

The province's Motor Vehicle Act doesn't allow for the use of red-light cameras in New Brunswick.

Chase is now calling on the provincial government to use the technology to reduce accidents and create safer streets, saying the "ball is in their court." 

"We don't have to reinvent the wheel," he said. "This survey sends an important message to the New Brunswick government that the Motor Vehicle Act needs to be updated."

No speed, no ticket

In Edmonton, which uses a model the City of Fredericton hopes to follow, a vehicle that speeds through a red light is fined $387 but the driver doesn't lose points. Chase said that money would be used to improve public education and safety programs and training. 

"If you don't speed, you won't get a ticket," he said. 

Stephen Chase

Coun. Stephen Chase is calling on the province to amend the Motor Vehicle Act to allow red-light cameras. (CBC News)

Fredericton has also been working with other cities in New Brunswick to press the province to allow red-light cameras. In July, the city passed a motion, asking for a change in the legislation.

At the end of September, the Cities of New Brunswick Association will meet in Bathurst and consider proposing amendments to the Motor Vehicle Act.

Since 2015, the provincial government has kept all the revenue from tickets for speeding and running red lights. 

"The province shares the goal of making safer streets … they haven't done anything concrete as of yet that would indicate they're ready to amend the Motor Vehicle Act," Chase said. 

Corporate Research Associates said it surveyed 400 adults by telephone in the Fredericton area between July 21 and Aug. 6. The results are accurate within plus or minus 4.9 percentage points, 95 times out of 100, the company said.

Clarifications

  • In a Friday statement, Elaine Bell, spokesperson for the province's justice and public safety department, said the province is always working to find ways to make New Brunswick's streets, roads and highways safer. Allowing red-light cameras would require legislative changes to the Motor Vehicle Act. She said these amendments "are not part of its legislative agenda for the next session."
    Sep 11, 2017 9:32 AM AT
With files from Information Morning Fredericton