A recent rash of accidents caused by suspected speeders and aggressive drivers has renewed calls for photo radar, but Toronto police Chief Bill Blair says the initiative alone won’t solve the epidemic.
“Photo radar has the effect of slowing everyone down, but unfortunately some individuals are not going to be deterred by that because the individual driver is not necessarily held accountable by photo radar,” he said on Tuesday.
“And so there still needs to be very aggressive enforcement about traffic laws to hold individual drivers who might engage in very aggressive conduct — speeding at high rates or even engaged in racing — they have to know that there are serious consequences for them for engaging in that activity.”
Blair says photo radar coupled with strong enforcement of traffic laws by police would have a “major contribution to making our streets safer.”
Hamilton’s police chief has endorsed the use of photo radar — a radar gun that takes photos of speeders’ licence plates.
The Ontario Provincial Police are concerned by a recent surge of aggressive driving and fatal accidents. The number traffic fatalities on OPP-patrolled roadways so far this year is up more than 20 per cent from last year, and officers have laid more charges.
“We’re very concerned with an additional 130 charges laid …. It is clear some members of the public are not getting it,” Chief Supt. Bill Grodzinski said on Sunday.
“Certainly those individuals driving at extreme speeds are causing us a great deal of concern.”
Six people died on roads patrolled by the OPP over the Canada Day long weekend. Police say of the six fatalities, four were speed-related, three involved alcohol, and one person wasn’t wearing a seatbelt.
The latest serious crash involved a Scarborough couple, who are recovering after they were rear-ended by a suspected street racer on Highway 401 on their way to Canada’s Wonderland on Sunday night.
Jaimangal Budhai and his wife were on their way to see a fireworks show when they were hit by a Mazda Miata. The woman suffered severe bruising and an injured neck.
Witnesses said they saw the Miata and a Pontiac weaving in and out of traffic at more than 150 km/h.
Over the holiday weekend, one Corvette was clocked at 193 km/h and a motorcycle at 170 km/h, police said.
The Canada Safety Council supports the use of photo radar, which was introduced in Ontario by Bob Rae’s NDP government in 1994. It was scrapped just under a year later by Mike Harris’ Conservatives.
Premier Dalton McGuinty has said his government won’t re-introduce it, as it’s considered too politically unpopular.
OPP Commissioner Julian Fantino has suggested that anyone caught going more than 50 km/h over the speed limit be automatically deemed to be racing and have their car seized.
Michael Bryant, Ontario’s attorney general, wants to see cars modified for street racing seized and crushed. California already has such a law.
Prominent Canadian auto racer Paul Tracy will be appearing in anti-speeding ads this week, telling people, “Racing on the street is not the place to do it.”