Speed cameras used in Quebec

Do you drive much in Quebec? If you do, be advised that this province is rapidly expanding the use of speed cameras to get drivers to slow down.

I frequently travel to Montreal and pass through at least two corridors where speed cameras are used: one along Route 138 between Ormstown and Ste. Martine, where the posted speed limit is 90 km/h (55 mph), and another in the village of Ste. Martine, where the speed limit is 50 km/h (30 mph). In both of these examples, drivers are warned about the speed cameras via signs designating the beginning and end of the corridors. Mobile cameras are used, so the driver never knows just when or where they might be in use.

Quebec Transport Minister Robert Poti has said the goal of the cameras isn’t to make money.

“These photo radars are a means to improve road safety,” he told reporters a couple of years ago. “They are tools that are showing their usefulness, and we’re going to continue using them.”

The number of crashes has nosedived in many areas under photo radar surveillance, including Highway 15 near Atwater Street in Montreal, where crashes plunged 73 percent since it was installed. A quick Google search shows dozens of locations in and around Montreal and suburbs where photo cameras are used. Although the intended use is to reduce speeding and correspondingly crashes, they are lucrative. The device on Highway 40 in the Vaudreuil-Dorion area collected $3.9 million over a two-year period.

In Quebec, all violations are reviewed by local enforcement, and if appropriate, a ticket is issued. The sanction is a fine levied on the registered owner of the vehicle rather than points on the driver’s license, because cameras are not normally able to give enough detail to identify the driver. Enforcement review gives discretion on issuing tickets.

Speed cameras are also used in the U.S., although not as vociferously. Corridors, similar to Canada, are used where the cameras are regularly moved to different locations so drivers don’t become familiar with the exact locations. Corridors force drivers to watch their speed for the length of the road, instead of slamming on the brakes at specific locations then speeding up again.

Cameras succeed in changing behavior only if drivers know about them. In Montgomery County, Maryland, where speed cameras were introduced in 2007, 95 percent of drivers surveyed were aware of them. More than three-fourths said they had reduced their speed because of the program, and 59 percent had received a speed-camera ticket personally, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety in their October 2015, edition of “Status Report.” That’s a very strong testimony as to the effect speed cameras have in reducing speeds and, correspondingly, crashes, injuries and fatalities.

Speed cameras can be controversial, but the results are indisputable. We need more of them.

For more information on traffic law and traffic safety, visit the Traffic Safety Board website at www.franklincony.org and go to Traffic Safety Board under “Departments.” Visit us on Facebook as well.