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Quebec boosting photo radar presence

MONTREAL, Que. – The passing of Law 57 this June entrenches photo radar for speeding and running red lights in Quebec. The plan continues to be to use photo radar in targeted areas where there is a history of excessive accidents or...


MONTREAL, Que. – The passing of Law 57 this June entrenches photo radar for speeding and running red lights in Quebec. The plan continues to be to use photo radar in targeted areas where there is a history of excessive accidents or infractions and where there is a perceived need to reduce speeding, such as in school zones and roadwork zones.

So far Transports Quebec has decided to place photo radar in eight roadwork zones, according to an Aug. 30 press release. Two are on the A20, just east and just west of Quebec City, one is on Hwy. 175 just north of Quebec City and another is just east of Quebec City on the A40. Nearer Montreal there are photo radars on the A20 in Saint-Simon, the A10 in Carignan and in Richelieu and the A40 in Vaudreuil-Dorion.

Unlike the original signs, which show a pictogram (a camera with lines radiating out from it) on a green background, the highway signs will have an orange background. Signs must indicate the locations of photo radar devices, since the stated objective of the program is still that of deterrence, not hauling in buckets of cash. That said, Law 57 states that a driver cannot wriggle out of a fine just because a sign was not visible or absent.

There are maps on the Transports Quebec Web site that show where the original 15 photo radars were installed in 2009. The list of eight roadwork sites is in that Aug. 30 press release; otherwise, the “possible presence of photo radar” is noted at the bottom of the descriptions of the work sites on Transports Quebec’s “Quebec 511” Web pages.

Even before Law 57 was passed, Quebec’s Minister of Transport announced that the city of Gatineau would install four mobile radar devices and one red light camera system in 2013. This pilot project will run for at least 18 months. Four mobile devices will also be installed in Quebec City next year.

Last February, Quebec announced that it would deploy an additional 25 photo radar devices and red light cameras around the province in 2013, bringing the total number, including the Gatineau, Quebec City and roadwork devices, to 56.

The rule of thumb for choosing which areas to equip with photo radar and red light cameras will remain that of the original pilot project, launched in 2009: Choose areas where there is an elevated risk of accidents and where traditional police surveillance is difficult. The growing implementation of photo radar and red light cameras is not a major problem for the trucking industry, according to Marc Cadieux, president and director general, Quebec Trucking Association (QTA). However, this may simply be because so few trucks – only about 40 trucks a month – are nabbed.

Because the photo radar and cameras only identify the vehicle – not the driver – the onus is on the owner of the vehicle to track down the offending driver and wring a confession out of him or her.

However, as Francois Rouette, a transportation attorney with the law firm Cain, Lamarre, Casgrain, Wells, warned back in the early days, Canadian citizens have the right not to incriminate themselves and they can not make confessions under duress; ie., threats from the vehicle owner.

Or, as Cadieux puts it, “It is the issue of having to confront the driver that will never put us at ease. There is no carrier that is at ease with this, on having to track down an employee and sit him down in the office.”

If the vehicle owner was not the driver he has just 10 days to finger the driver and send in the right form.

“For companies that have drivers that are on the road, this is a very short time. This was our concern with the project from the beginning,” Cadieux says. “We were opposed from the beginning, because of the obligation and bureaucracy on our side, from administering that. The administration sounds easy, but it is not for all carriers. There is a lot of legwork to be done to get to the person who was driving the truck.”


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