Red light cameras yellow flagged

SAULT STE. MARIE, Ont. — Truckers heading from the Michigan border north out of this city should know that soon there might be hidden cameras at three intersections along the main drag, set up to take the photos of people who run red lights.

Sault City Elders are considering sticking the cameras where the main drag — the Great Northern Route — intersects with Second Line, Northern and McNabb, according to the Sault Star.

The local police insist red-light cameras will decrease the number of accidents. But the jury is, in fact, still out.

Here’s how red-light cameras should work.

Pedro, behind the wheel of his hip-hop blaring rice-burner, ignores the amber and zips through an intersection. A little camera takes a picture of his plate, the cops send a citation to his home. Pedro’s insurance goes up, he pays a hefty fine and he never does it again.

But here’s how they really work:

Sault city has some details to work out before
launching a red light camera system.

A week after Joe the Widow bids his late missus goodbye, what should arrive in the mail with the sympathy cards but a fine for driving through a red light. In fact everybody in the funeral procession got one.

That has actually happened.

The point is, as effective as red-light cameras ought to be in fighting dangerous traffic, they’re fraught with problems.

Cities that have implemented the automatic systems have found that the licence plate images are often too obscure to be identified, weather can render the cameras useless, and heavy-duty trucks — this happened in Grande Prairie, Alta. — can actually shake the ground enough that they trigger the cameras and innocent drivers get citations.

Still, Staff Sgt. Steve Davey of the Sault Police tells the newspaper that the province of Ontario recently completed a two-year, red-light-camera pilot project and he thinks the system should be given, well, the green light.

"Their conclusions were that red-light camera systems have proven to enhance intersection safety," Davey said.

However, according to the paper, the city will give the idea further study before proceeding.


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