Red light cameras are a relatively new tool that Ontario municipalities are using to deter drivers from driving through intersection stop lines after traffic lights have turned red. In 2018, 59 red light cameras were installed in Toronto. Over 300 red light cameras are already in use in Ontario, and many municipalities (including Ottawa, Sudbury, London, Waterloo and Hamilton) either already have red light camera programs in place or are planning to implement them in the near future. These cameras improve public safety and deter reckless driving. A ticket is issued to the owner of any vehicle that is photographed when it fails to stop for a red light. As a driver, understanding how red light camera initiatives work will help you avoid fines and stay safe on the road.

Why Are Red Light Cameras Used, and How Do They Work?

More than half of red light cameras are located in the Greater Toronto Area, and Toronto authorities have found the program to be highly successful at improving intersection safety. More than 40% of fatalities at signalized intersections are caused by a vehicle running a red light. Red light cameras are installed at intersections with high amounts of right-angle collisions, which are serious collisions that typically occur as a result of running a red light. According to the Ministry of Transportation, red light cameras that were installed as part of a pilot project across Ontario have reduced injuries and fatalities by almost 7%. In Toronto, angle collisions that occur at intersections with red light cameras and result in injuries or fatalities have been reduced by over 60%.

Red light cameras only take photos of vehicles that enter an intersection after the traffic light has turned red. Vehicles that enter the intersection when the light is yellow will not be ticketed, even if the light turns red while the vehicle is still in the intersection — this includes vehicles turning left that are already in an intersection when the light turns red. Red light cameras are designed to deter drivers from running lights, so each intersection with a camera will have signs advising drivers that a camera is present.

What Are the Consequences of a Red Light Ticket?

If your vehicle is photographed running a red light, the Ministry of Transportation will mail you a ticket and the photo taken by the camera. The fine issued for a violation detected by a red light camera is $325, which is the same as the cost of a red light violation issued by a police officer. The province and municipality share the revenue generated from red light camera fines.

Will I Receive Demerit Points with a Red Light Ticket?

Unlike if you were issued a ticket for running a red light by a police officer, you won’t receive any demerit points with a red light camera ticket. This is because the photos that red light cameras take can’t positively identify drivers. Therefore, unlike other Ontario moving violations, all red light camera tickets are issued to a vehicle’s owner instead of who was driving the vehicle when the photo was taken. Since red light camera tickets aren’t directly connected to your driving record, it’s unlikely that they would affect your auto insurance premiums.

Given the success of these initiatives, it looks like red light cameras are here to stay in Ontario. Learning more about where these cameras are located in your area will help you not only stay alert while driving through intersections but also become more aware of high-priority intersections for road safety initiatives. In addition, if you ever do see someone sail through a red light, you might have peace of mind knowing that they could be fined and will hopefully never run a red light again.

Red light cameras have been proven to significantly reduce the amount of traffic accidents in urban areas. Regardless of whether they act as a deterrent or a punishment for the serious traffic violation of not stopping at a red light, they have succeeded in making our streets safer.

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