The province is upgrading red light cameras in an effort to catch speeders on B.C. roads.
It will spend the next several months analyzing crash and speed data at the 140 intersections where it has red light cameras before deciding which ones to equip with vehicle identifying equipment.
According to the province, the move is more transparent than photo radar, which Attorney General David Eby called photo radar a “non starter” at a press conference last summer.
Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth emphatically denied that the change is a move towards photo radar. He said the change requires a hardware upgrade to the existing cameras, and data collection to measure the problem of people speeding to get through a light that is changing to red.
Once that study is complete, the intersection camera system will be able to issue speeding tickets as well as those for running a red light, Farnworth said. A threshold of excessive speeding will be chosen to trigger the additional ticket, he said.
“What we’re concerned about is people who go through red lights,” Farnworth said. “I’ve been up to an intersection many times and the light will turn yellow, and then one, two, sometimes three cars will go through, and they’re going through the red light.
“And we know that’s where the worst accidents happen, at intersections. That’s where pedestrians get hit far too often.”
The photo radar program ended in 2001 and the province said that the unmarked vans, staffed with two police officers each, issued speeding tickets at “low speeding thresholds” and used up too many police resources.
Four other provinces already use red light cameras: Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Quebec.
An Ernst & Young report released last summer said that activating more red light cameras to catch speeders could save ICBC $3 million.
Expanding the program to 240 cameras would net savings of $13.5 million and enabling the cameras to catch those speeding through green lights could save $89 million.
The auto insurer has been under fire in recent months for a projected $1.3 billion deficit.
The report also noted that “proven automated speed enforcement technologies” would create “immediate improvement.”
An analysis of 28 automated speed enforcement studies found an at least 14 per cent reduction in crashes.
The province has not yet responded to a request for comment.
MAP: Red light cameras in B.C.
– with files from Tom Fletcher