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More red light cameras? Yes, please

Published February 25, 2013
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York Region is working towards installing red light cameras at some of their signalized intersections to help reduce the number of serious crashes that result from truckers and motorists illegally running through.

There are a few people who look at this as nothing more than a money grab. However, there are significant safety statistics that show that intersections that have these cameras have reduced incidents of red light crashes. The City of Toronto is one such jurisdiction that has red light camera intersections where the number of red light crashes has been reduced.

Collisions resulting from drivers running red lights are either “head-on” or “T-bone” style crashes which are always the most severe in nature.

More: Turning right on a red light? Beware of the ‘lane stray’

More: York Region identifies 20 new sites for red-light cameras

Head-on crashes usually result from a driver attempting a left turn at the end of their green light cycle as the signals turn amber then red. If they are in the intersection they have the right of way to clear the intersection and complete their turn. The deadly head-on crash usually results from an oncoming vehicle trying to get through the intersection before the light turns red and they collide with the left turning vehicle.

The T-bone style of crash usually occurs when a vehicle in the cross flow traffic runs the red light.

There are two types of red light runners.

One is the selfish motorist or trucker who wants to make it through the intersection without having to stop. They are simply lazy and careless and are only thinking of their own progress. They will attempt to drive through on a very stale amber or even an early red. This is when those serious and often deadly head-on collisions occur.

The video below shows a trucker driving through a red light anticipating a green. The camera car has an advanced green to facilitate a left turn. The truck driver, pulling a trailer of what appears to be snowmobiles, continues to roll as they approach the red light. The camera car driver notices this and hesitates on making his left turn. The trucker runs the red light trying to avoid the inconvenience of bringing the truck to a complete stop. Luckily there was not an incident resulting from this careless driving.

In a past Wheels article, I wrote about the seriousness of vehicles, and in particular truckers, running red lights after witnessing several red-light running truckers. I was even admonished by one trucker who wrote in trying to justify that it is OK for truckers to run red lights due to their heavy load.

There is NO excuse whatsoever for running a red light. If you are a trucker with a heavy load, you simply plan ahead and when approaching a signalized intersection prepare for a red light by slowing during the approach. It is actually quite simple.

The other type of red light runner is the impaired driver. It is important to note that this type of driver can be impaired by distraction, alcohol, fatigue or drugs. I have witnessed more than one motorist running a red light while talking on a cell phone.

Some people argue that rear-end collisions increase when red light cameras are installed. The statistics support this occurrence in the early stages after the cameras are installed.

However, a rear-end collision is usually less severe than the head-on or T-bone collision that results from red light runners.

Many of these rear-end collisions result from motorists stopping violently when the light changes to amber or red. The trailing driver is surprised by the sudden braking of the first driver. I have seen drivers actually speed up when approaching a signalized intersection hoping to get through at the last second.

These rear-end collisions are not the fault of red light cameras. This is the direct fault of two motorists approaching a signalized intersection in a dangerous manner.

Signalized intersections are some of the most dangerous areas of our roadways. Drivers should always slow gently when approaching a signalized intersection and expect the light to change or expect the unexpected to occur. Rushing up to an intersection is never a good idea.

On top of that, a smart driver will always watch for tailgaters in their mirrors and adjust their driving to that situation. If you are being tailgated when approaching an intersection, slow gradually and prepare for a gentle stop. This forces the tailgating driver to slow gradually as well.

I am all in favour of York Region installing red light cameras and advertising the fact they are out there. When motorists and truckers are aware they might be caught driving selfishly, they tend to obey the rules and actually stop.

I would suggest York Region install these cameras at Hwy. 48 and Bloomington Rd. and other intersections where I have seen numerous gravel trucks run these red lights.

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