Nearly 20,000 vehicles went through red lights in Hamilton in 2022, according to city camera data

The city says it made roughly $3.3 million from drivers running red lights in 2022.

As a result, the city says it made roughly $3.3 million from those drivers

A red light camera.
A red light camera at the corner of James Street North and Cannon Street East in Hamilton is shown on Feb. 11, 2020. (Dan Taekema/CBC)

More than 19,000 vehicles were caught on camera going through red lights in Hamilton in 2022, according to the city. 

The number — 19,131 — is up from 2021 but roughly the same as 2020, Norm Miller, a spokesperson with the public works department, told CBC Hamilton. 

Miller said the city made roughly $3.3 million from drivers running red lights and said some 22 per cent of all charges filed through the provincial offences administration office are for red light camera violations.

It's unclear how much the city profited though as the operating costs for 2022 aren't finalized. For context, Emily Trotta, another spokesperson with the public works department, said it cost the city $1,245,000 to operate red light cameras in 2021.

The number of individual drivers fined is also unclear.

The top intersection for red light camera violations was Cannon Street West and Hess Street North with 2,508 vehicles caught breaking the law.

The other top intersections were also in the city's core.

Main Street West and Queen Street South saw 2,074 vehicles drive through red lights, King Street West and Macklin Street saw 1,889 violations, Main Street and Dundurn Street South saw 1,877 violations and Hess Street North and York Boulevard saw 1,609 violations.

The last intersection is almost right next to Cannon and Hess.

Right-angle crashes fall but rear-end crashes grow

Brian Hart, a long-time regional trainer with Young Drivers of Canada in Hamilton, told CBC Hamilton the number of infractions and the city's hot spots don't surprise him.

"A lot of people try to get through [the lights] quickly. There's an attitude that's 'Can I make it?' not 'Should I stop for it?'" he said.

Hart said based on the statistics on red light camera violations over the years, he isn't sure it's helping since the number only dropped during the pandemic.

A red light camera
A red light camera is shown in Hamilton on Feb. 10, 2020. (Dan Taekema/CBC)

Miller said a review of collision data at intersections with red light cameras between 2019 and 2021 showed, on average, right-angle collisions fell by 58 per cent and injuries and deaths associated with those crashes fell by 65 per cent compared to a three-year period without the cameras.

But the number of rear-end crashes increased by 92 per cent, Miller said. He didn't provide data on if injuries and deaths associated with those crashes grew too. 

"People are stopping when they actually shouldn't have so it's a double-edged sword ... they're stopping way too hard and not considering people behind them," Hart said.

Miller said while studies show rear-end crashes rise with red light cameras, right-angle crashes have a higher probability of hurting and killing people.

Over 23,000 speed camera violations in 2020 and 2021

Meanwhile, Trotta said the number of violations in 2022 related to automatic speed enforcement (ASE) cameras isn't finalized yet because the infractions are still being processed through the provincial court system.

However, an ASE pilot saw 16,508 charges filed in 2020 and 7,106 filed in 2021.

Based on those figures and the average ticket of $70, the city earned $1,155,560 in 2020 and $497,420 in 2021 from ASE violations. Operating costs in 2021 were roughly $185,000, Trotta said.

Over a quarter of the 7,106 charges in 2021 came from just two stretches of road.

The top two areas for ASE violations in 2021 were on Main Street North between Parkside Drive and John Street East in Waterdown, and Greenhill Avenue between Quigley Road and Mount Albion Road in Stoney Creek near the Red Hill Valley Parkway.

The stretch of road in Waterdown saw 1,000 violations while the stretch of road in Stoney Creek saw 998.

A graphic.
The graphic shows the top spots for automated speed enforcement violations in 2021. (Jamie Hopkins/CBC)

Trotta said the city's pilot focused on mid-block locations to reduce speed and increase road safety.

The pilot is now a permanent program. 

She said during the pilot, driver compliance to posted speed limits increased by 29 per cent.

She also said the speed of most drivers fell by roughly 10 kilometres per hour on the stretches of road with ASE compared to when there was no enforcement.

Speeding only saves you seconds: Driving instructor

Hart said based on the data, it's hard to say how effective ASE is since fewer people drove in 2021 and there's no 2022 data.

He also said he wonders how long a driver's reduced speed persists after passing ASE cameras.

"It's no different to seeing a police officer on the side of the road," Hart said.

"Once we've seen the officer, what will everyone do? They'll slow down. Does that mean though they'll continue to do that as they travel through those areas once they're gone?"

Cars driving at night.
Brian Hart said drivers aren't getting far by speeding and data shows the risk of crashes while speeding are more likely to cause serious injury or death. (Bobby Hristova/CBC)

That said, Hart said he's not sure what other tools or measures the city can do to improve road safety.

He said it's more of a "driving culture" problem, with people rushing on the roads.

"People have a tendency to think they're getting somewhere quickly. In most cases, they're not," he said.

Previous data from the provincial police in Newfoundland showed driving 10 kilometres at 120 kilometres an hour versus 100 kilometres an hour saved people just 60 seconds. Driving 140 kilometres, meanwhile, saved people roughly 103 seconds.

Meanwhile, the risk of serious injury or death is 11 times higher in crashes at 50 kilometres per hour or more over a speed limit of 100 kilometres per hour, according to Ontario data.


Bobby Hristova is a journalist with CBC Hamilton. He reports on all issues, but has a knack for stories that hold people accountable, stories that focus on social issues and investigative journalism. He previously worked for the National Post and CityNews in Toronto. You can contact him at bobby.hristova@cbc.ca.


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