Better smile if driving in Quebec

by Bruce Richards

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.

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  • Speed Scameras are only profitable when used with underset speed limits.

    The claims that this is about safety is hollow. Safety is pulling over a dangerous driver, not sending a bill weeks later.

    ON top of that they breed greed. IN MD there have been admissions that the speed scameras are wrong over 5% (THIS ADMISSON WAS BY THE SCAMERA VENDOR ACS/XEROX) or


    Quote: “A manager from trucking company has questioned the accuracy of citations issued to them by speed cameras in Baltimore, claiming that evidence images and videos captured by the cameras shows the large semi trucks could not have been traveling at the high speeds recorded on the citations.

    The Safety Manager for a PA based trucking company forwarded a citation alleging that a large semi truck had been traveling 70mph in a 35mph zone at 1300 Block of W. Coldspring Lane E/B
    “This is the 6th citation we’ve received at this location since 1/07/12 and it’s getting out of hand. I reviewed each video personally and there was never any indication our driver was speeding. I sent a letter to city a few months ago expressing my concerns, but heard nothing back, of course.”, He wrote to us in an email.”
    camerafraud on Facebook

  • IF posted speed limits are set to maximize safety, promote the smoothest traffic flow, and reduce accident risks to the minimum — the posted limits are set at the 85th percentile speed of free flowing traffic under good conditions rounded to the nearest 10 kph (5 mph) interval. This procedure to maximize safety is almost never used in Canada, and is used only in a few places in the USA. Almost all posted speed limits in North America are set lower than their 85th percentile speed safety-optimum point.

    This makes the use of photo-radar and officer operated speed traps VERY profitable because 50% to 90+% of drivers are arbitrarily defined as violators, but the goals and results of the improperly under-posted speed limits are about money, not safety.

    Residents of Quebec need to contact their provincial legislators to demand this program NOT be used. Enforcement for profits is always wrong, it is always predatory, and it does NOT improve safety. See the science on our website.

    James C. Walker, National Motorists Association (members throughout North America)