Published On: Tue, Jun 12th, 2018

Ontario should act to let cities use photo radar in school zones

In an ideal world, posting a reduced speed limit sign would be enough to get drivers to slow down. Especially in a school zone where young children abound.

And if not that, then surely some combination of the “Watch for Children,” school zone, and flashing “Your Speed” signs that are scattered all around schools should do the trick.

Toronto has tried everything to get drivers to slow down in school zones and now, rightly, it wants to try photo radar.
Toronto has tried everything to get drivers to slow down in school zones and now, rightly, it wants to try photo radar.  (Steve Russell / Toronto Star)

Or the extra signs that local residents often put up urging people to “please slow down” and “drive like your kids live here.”

But it seems that in Toronto all that still isn’t enough to get drivers simply to slow down.

That’s why the city is trying flexible school zone signs bolted to the middle of the road, hoping that people who don’t feel compelled to slow down for young kids will slow down to protect their vehicle from dents and scratches.

Article Continued Below

And it’s why the city wants to implement the one tool left to try: photo radar.

On Tuesday, the public works committee is expected to approve a report calling for photo radar to catch and fine drivers who speed in elementary school zones.

Assuming it does, the matter would go to full council later this month for final approval. Mayor John Tory has already expressed his support for photo radar in school zones and said he wants at least a pilot project started this year.

“It’s something we need, and it’s something that I think is going to give people a wake-up call in school zones because there are far too many kids being put at risk,” Tory has said.

The catch, though, is that the city can’t actually roll out the photo radar cameras until the province acts.

Ontario last year passed the Safer School Zones Act, which allows municipalities to use photo radar within designated areas including school and community safety zones. But it still needs to proclaim the changes in effect before the city can move ahead.

Now that will be up to Doug Ford’s new Progressive Conservative government. And Ontario’s incoming premier should act quickly to allow cities to make use of this tool to improve road safety.

Article Continued Below

Certainly, photo radar has been controversial in the past.

Ontario used the roadside cameras to snap pictures of speeders’ licence plates on provincial highways for 11 months before Mike Harris was elected premier in 1995 and killed the program.

It wasn’t popular with drivers, naturally, and it was all too easy to label it as a cash grab.

But what’s proposed now isn’t slapping drivers on 400-series highways, where the general flow of traffic (when not gridlocked) is constantly above the posted speed limit.

This is about catching drivers who treat the 40 km/hr sign in a school zone as an optional nuisance.

Other cities across Canada have been using these cameras for years already, and there’s good evidence they do reduce speeding. Toronto is far from the only municipality in Ontario that wants this option.

And why not?

It’s a reliable, cost-effective technology that can efficiently punish drivers who put others at risk by speeding.

Making use of photo radar in school zones —the local streets that have the highest portion of young children walking or cycling — makes good sense.

As one Toronto parent of a 9-year-old put it: “People need to slow down. If it means that they’re going to have big tickets, and pay through the nose for safety infractions, and maybe learn a lesson that way, that would be a much better way than a child losing their life.”

It’s hard to argue with that.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

TORONTO STAR

Leave a comment

Ontario should act to let cities use photo radar in school zones