SIGN SAYS: Drivers in Quebec will soon have to contend with photo radar. The controversial practice poses a unique challenge to the trucking industry, since it will only capture the licence plate of the trailer. Who is pulling that trailer at the time of the infraction could cause some interesting employee/employer discussions.
MONTREAL, Que. –Nearly a year later than expected, photo radar is weeks away from happening in Quebec.
Silly concerns such as “Big Brother is watching you” aside (that horse is long out of the barn), Transports Quebec calculates that just the presence of photo radar will slow down drivers, that merely the perception that there is a risk of being caught will change drivers’ behaviour.
Speed is a factor in 38% of highway deaths a year here. In 2007, 606 people died on Quebec roads, a far higher number per 100,000 residents than in the US, Great Britain or Ontario, according to the Societe de l’assurance automobile du Quebec.
Transports Quebec hopes to see the sort of reduced carnage that France reported after implementing photo radar, attributing 75% of the 9,800 fewer highway deaths between 2002 and 2007 to its use.
Red light cameras
There will also be sites where cars running red lights will be photographed and ticketed.
Both these and the photo radar sites will be well-indicated with signs, as the goal of the program is to make drivers stop at red lights and obey the speed limits.
Beginning on May 19 there will be a three-month grace period where the owners of ticketed vehicles will get warnings.
Aug. 19 will mark the beginning of an 18-month pilot project where vehicle owners will have to pay fines of $100 or $200 for running red lights, and speeding fines that will vary according to the speed of the vehicle.
Only photographs from the back of the vehicles will be sent to the registered owners of the vehicles. Representatives of the trucking industry rightly point out that fingering the owner of a trailer is not fair.
According to the government, either the owner pays the fine, or he gets the actual driver to confess to the infraction and pay it. If the driver refuses, the owner can simply write in his name.
If no driver ‘fesses up, the owner can simply fill in the name of whomever he thinks was driving the rig at the time. Industry representatives think this is a tailor-made administrative nightmare and recipe for bad blood with employees.
Despite the trucking industry’s protestations, Transports Quebec has done nothing to alleviate these concerns, according to Francois Rouette, a transportation attorney with the law firm Cain, Lamarre, Casgrain, Wells.
Rouette believes a challenge to this law is inevitable.
In the meantime, however, he points out that Canadian citizens have the right not to incriminate themselves and they can not make confessions under duress; ie., threats from the vehicle owner.
The minute the fact of any forced admission comes out in court, the ticket gets tossed out the window.
“This is well enshrined, that one cannot incriminate oneself,” Rouette says.
Striking down the law would be difficult, but if everyone pleaded not guilty to the tickets they received, the courts could get so clogged up that Rouette envisions a situation where judges might start to systematically declare everyone not guilty.
When asked what would happen if everyone who received a ticket were to pen Minister of Transport Julie Boulet in the accused line, Rouette only chuckled.
Transports Quebec has chosen 15 sites where there are particularly bad problems with speeding or running red lights. (There are six fixed photo radar sites, three mobile photo radars for police vehicles and six fixed installations that will photograph vehicles that run red lights).
In Montreal the three red light sites are on the intersections of University and Notre-Dame West; Sainte-Catherine East and Iberville; and Decarie northbound and Pare.
The two fixed photo radars will be on McDougall between Le Boulevard and Cedar (50 km/h), and the A-15 southbound, about 300 metres before the Atwater exit (70 km/h). The mobile photo radar will be on Notre-Dame East between De Lorimier and Gonthier, with 50 and 60 km/h zones.
There will be a red light site at the intersection of the 132 and Monchamp in Saint-Constant, a fixed photo radar site in Boucherville on the A-20 westbound, about 200 metres from Mortagne boulevard (100 km/h), and another in Pincourt on the A- 20 eastbound, about 350 metres west of L’Ile boulevard (70 km/h). In Marieville a mobile photo radar unit will be stationed on route 112, from the municipal limit of Richelieu to Sainte-Angelede- Monnoir (70 and 90 km/h).
Just east of Quebec City in Levis a red light unit will be located on the 173 (President Kennedy) at the intersection of Wilfred-Carrier and Louis-H.- Lafontaine.
A photo radar will be located on the A-20 collector about one kilometre before the Pierre- Laporte bridge exit.
In Thetford Mines a red light unit will be placed on Frontenac East (route 112) at the Ouellet intersection.
In Saint-Georges-de-Beauce photo radar will be located on Lacroix at the top of the intersection of 114 Street.
A mobile photo radar van will be located in Beauceville on route 173 between the intersection of Golf and the municipal limit of Notre-Dame-des-Pins. •