Quebec’s recent announcement that it will deploy photo radar in specific locations throughout the province is likely to raise as much ire among truckers who transgress speed laws as did the introduction of speed limiters a few years ago. The speed limiter hue and cry is still ongoing, as confirmed by the continuous stream of letters to the editors of the major industry publications.
As most readers of Truck News know by now, Law 57, which was passed in June of this year allows for photo radar to be used in targeted locations in the province such as those that experience high accident ratios, school zones, and roadwork areas. With this move, Quebec joins a handful of other Canadian jurisdictions that use photo radar in various modes.
While photo radar does not discriminate over the type of vehicle there will likely be those that feel it is yet another unnecessary intrusion on the poor commercial driver. If you are inclined to think that way, consider the charges laid in Ontario recently against a truck driver for allegedly operating his tractor trailer at 136 km/h in an 80 km/h zone. Apparently it’s not just kids in souped-up Civics that can’t resist the urge to press on the pedal.
The decision by Transports Quebec to use photo radar is not much of a surprise to anyone who has driven the identified areas planned for deployment. Personal experience on a couple of these routes tells me that speeding is often the norm, mitigated only by rush hours when the traffic barely moves at all.
What I do find curious is that the Ministry has made public the locations where it is using, or is planning to use photo radar.
So, even if you didn’t read the press release, a visit to the Transports Quebec Web site will point out many of the fixed locations.
Additionally, there will be roadside signs indicating where photo radar is in use. So, with all that information, if your only worry is getting caught, you need only be concerned with a few of the mobile units or regular radar traps.
Now, I do understand that having fixed locations made public could have the desired effect of getting drivers to more closely observe speed limits in those locations. However, it’s possible that those same drivers are just as likely to feel they can speed with near impunity elsewhere.
Since any tickets issued as the result of an infraction captured by photo radar will go to the owner of the vehicle, Quebec has included an interesting twist in the law.
The twist is that if the owner was not the driver at the time, he or she has a specified length of time to get the actual driver to own up.
That’s not a bad way to handle those situations where a vehicle has been lent to someone. It could lead to some interesting dinner table conversation if, say a son or daughter were the driver of the family car. But as Marc Cadieux of the Quebec Trucking Association points out, it could cause grief for carriers who have their trucks shared among a number of different drivers.
Affected carriers will have to be quick off the mark to identify the driver, get his or her admission, and file the paperwork if they don’t want to be stuck with the penalties. And figuring out who the driver was, and then tracking that driver down to elicit a confession could be a time consuming process.
The use of photo radar could of course help offset the ineffectiveness of speed limiters (set at 105 km/h) in curbing speeds in reduced speed zones such as construction sites, school areas, and secondary roads (but please, let’s not open that old sore up again). It could also help address the issue of a shortage of resources to otherwise enforce speed limits, a common complaint among enforcement groups.
It will be interesting to see how the Quebec populace reacts to the expanded use of photo radar. It didn’t last long in Ontario but then again, perhaps Quebec’s politicians, like those of the other jurisdictions using it have more resolve.