The City of Hamilton has been having trouble with drivers understanding how red lights work. Statistics show that there was a total of 21,644 red light violations that were recorded in Hamilton last year. That means over 21,000 people got CAUGHT running a red light. That, primarily, by the red light cameras that have been installed at 34 intersections around the city; however, half of the tickets were recorded at just five intersections. So is it the intersections that are problematic? Or the drivers?
It has been a growing trend of trouble at the lights in recent years. Some 18,435 incidents were recorded in 2018, 16,134 the year before and the 14,167 tallied in 2016. Given that each ticket comes with a $325 fine of which the municipality gets $260 it is no surprise that they intend to continue adding cameras. But while the cameras may discourage some and do add to the cities budget, which they have pledged to increasing road safety, it does not seem that they are enough to discourage drivers from this dangerous behaviour in general, though it does appear to reduce accidents at intersections with cameras. Collision data shows the average rate of right-angle collisions and injury or fatal collisions at intersections drops by 53 per cent and 69 per cent respectively when you compare statistics from three years before a camera was installed to three years after it is in place.
Just earlier this week the Twitter feed for Environment Hamilton showed a disturbing scene of red light violations at a pedestrian crosswalk endangering at least one individual with a walker when one driver attempted to beat a yellow light and ended up driving speedily through a red instead.
Provincial legislation came in not that long ago to increase the penalties for drivers who endanger pedestrians, and this is still going on. And it’s not just a Hamilton problem, it’s a Provincial issue occurring in cities all over. There are provisions in the Ontario Highway Traffic Act that allow for municipalities to create penalties for blocking intersections; that is to say entering an intersection when you cannot reasonably expect to exit it safely before a light changes, and in fact Hamilton has a provision that if drivers stop within intersection or crosswalk they could face a penalty of $75. Perhaps a higher penalty or stronger enforcement is required?
Edward Soldo, director of transportation operations for the city, said the city will make this intersection a priority when deciding where to install the next round of red light cameras. Perhaps they can also try to find some other way to encourage better behavior in drivers. But for now it remains an issue that many drivers do not seem to have an understanding or a respect for the rules of the road. Hopefully a solution to that can be found soon. In the meantime we pray that people find the patience to respect each other on the road.