Smile, you’re on candid camera!
I remember as a kid trying to keep up to my dad. He walked a lot faster than I did, but to me, it always seemed like he was in a hurry. As I got older I realized he wasn’t in a hurry; he just had longer legs than I had. When we drove around the city, he would point out drivers who were driving much faster than other drivers and often said they were in a hurry to go nowhere. Sometimes, we would see drivers going through red lights. Unfortunately for those drivers, the next light was red and we would catch up to them there.
This still seems to happen throughout our driving community. When I’m teaching my students at Young Drivers of Canada, I ask them all if they’ve seen drivers going through red lights. There’s almost a unanimous show of hands when I ask that question. We start to discuss this slightly and we all find out that a lot of drivers they know will run through the red light on purpose. What do they have to gain from this?
Since this is still an ongoing concern, a lot of jurisdictions have installed red light cameras at intersections. These cameras are set up to take a photo of the intersection, the traffic light and the vehicle going through the red light; including the license plate number. There are warning signs to help educate the public with the real hope of having drivers stop safely when the light changes to yellow; or amber to those of us in the driving industry.
Recently, I spotted the flash of the camera going off for two separate drivers. They got caught going through the red light. The funny thing was the light they were both approaching was red, the roads were dry and there wasn’t another vehicle following them closely. So why did they run the light? What was their hurry?
With the high price of fuel, insurance and maintenance of vehicles these days, why would you add to the cost by having to pay a fine between $200 and $400 for running a red light? Quite often the jurisdiction puts up the warning signs of the red light camera to get drivers to slow down and stop when they can do so safely. And besides, that’s what the amber light really means anyway.
Other jurisdictions have photo radar to help catch speeders. They too take a photo of the vehicle speeding, along with the license plate and send along the ticket in the mail. Sometimes, it’s easy to spot the vehicle parked at the side of the road that has the camera in it. When Ontario had photo radar years ago, the camera was always in a van parked on the side of the freeway. The van was just like the warning sign. It gave you the chance to reduce speed. Plus, you never knew where it could be parked, so a lot of drivers drove a little slower; just in case it was parked nearby. The moment you saw a bunch of vehicles ahead of you braking, you knew the photo radar van was ahead. This gave you time to adjust your speed if you needed to.
I’ve been to other provinces that also have photo radar. Most of those areas have signs posted to warn you of the photo radar area, just like the red light camera warning signs. It’s a proactive way to help keep the speeds down in those areas. In some of those jurisdictions, you have to ensure you’re not over the speed limit by even one kilometre, or else you’ll get a ticket.
These are pretty harsh fees, just for having your picture taken. Maybe you could save yourself some cash if you all become camera shy!