Leduc's new traffic cameras catch more than 500 violations in a week
Motorists will get warnings instead of tickets during grace period that ends Sept. 1.
More than 500 warnings were issued to drivers in Leduc over one week after the city installed three automated traffic enforcement systems.
The cameras are located at busy intersections along 50th Avenue and 50th Street and set up to capture three violations: running red lights, rolling stops while making a right turn on a red light, or speeding through a green light.
Mayor Bob Young said tickets had previously been issued through a private company but the city wanted more control over where and how many tickets were being issued. The city opted not to renew the company's contract, instead installing the cameras.
"The main issue for us is safety," said Young. "These are intersections [where] we have had many collisions and accidents in the past."
He expected to see violations when the cameras were first activated in mid-July, but said he was "shocked" when the numbers actually started rolling in.
In the week from July 22 through July 28, there were 390 red-light violations and 176 green-light violations.
But the city isn't issuing fines just yet. Young said the program will remain in a probationary period to educate residents and give them time to get accustomed to the new cameras.
The grace period will end on Sept. 1. After that, $388 tickets will be issued for running a red light and making a rolling stop on a right turn. Tickets for speeding violations vary depending on rate of speed over the posted limit.
Bernard Bourassa, a paralegal with Alberta Ticket Fighter, said it can be very difficult to fight a ticket from a traffic camera.
"The picture is all the evidence they need to go against you," said Bourassa. Unless the photo is blurry, there's very little argument to be made.
"I always think you should always fight no matter what; there's always a chance you could win," he said.
That said, he added, the fee charged by Alberta Ticket Fighter can be more than just paying the ticket itself.
He said the cameras help prevent accidents and bring in money for the city. Unlike a ticket issued by a police officer, they don't come with demerits and they don't impact insurance rates.
Richard Kruitbosch drives through the intersection at 50th Avenue and 50th Street about 10 times a week, and has had a few near-misses during his 20 years living in Leduc.
"I see people going through late yellows from time to time and sometimes a solid red. And that bothers me that they put their own personal timeline ahead of people's safety."
He wasn't surprised to hear about the number of violations in the first week of the camera's operations.
"I'm quite happy to see that they're putting some of these things in place," said Kruitbosch.
With files from Peggy Lam