Photo radar gets mixed reviews from local residents, drivers

Some called them “resourceful,” others assailed their use as a “lazy” tactic, as people living in Leaside and East York shared their opinions on the new photo radar cameras installed on some of their streets.

In December the City of Toronto responded to the high number of pedestrian deaths by installing 50 photo radar units on city streets. The system is intended to let police use licence plate numbers to track down registered owners of speeding vehicles and send them warning letters — and later, fines —by mail.

But even though residents have been calling for crackdowns on speeding their communities, not everyone welcomes photo radar.

“The new cameras are ineffective,” Leaside resident Lena Bianka said. “These cameras make the police officers in the area look lazy. There’s got to be more men in uniform patrolling the area rather just adding cameras.”

Another resident complained they would not like to be held responsible for tickets incurred by friends or relatives who use their cars.

“With these cameras, I’ve been more cautious, I don’t lend my vehicle to anyone because what would happen if my someone were driving my car and they were caught by a camera?” James Ali said. “I would get the ticket, and I think that’s unfair.”

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However, if you get a warning letter or a fine and you didn’t drive the vehicle, it isn’t necessarily game over, according to police.

“Registered owners who can prove they weren’t driving the car will definitely have the citation and fines removed,” said Sgt. Brett Moore of Toronto police traffic services.

Some residents say that they’re pleased with the new cameras and want additional photo radar in their area.

“I couldn’t be more pleased with these cameras,” said William Arak, 63, of East York. “Quite frankly I would like to see more of these cameras in my area, just so we get rid of all the speeders and violators for good.”

Another East Yorker, Jessica, 41, who didn’t want to give her last name, said she got caught speeding on Huron Street near Bernard Avenue in the Annex area, in January.

However, she said supports the cameras and is encouraging people to be vigilant on the road.

“They’re resourceful, they work,” she said. “People like me have to drive safely on the road and one thing I can tell drivers is that the cameras got me. And if they got me, they will catch anyone.”

Cameras stolen, vandalized

However much some people criticize photo radar in midtown and the east end, at least the cameras have not been physically attacked as they have in other parts of Toronto.

Officials are investigating after four of the 360-kg machines were stolen and another was found vandalized.

One of the ground-based boxes was stolen from Jameson Avenue in the west end. Three others were taken from locations on Brimorton Drive, Crow Trail and Falmouth Avenue in Scarborough.

According to the city, two of the four boxes have been replaced and the other two will be installed next month.

The machines are each worth $50,000, city spokesman Brad Ross said.

Scarborough resident Cheryll Benchod, 43, said as a supporter of the photo radar program she is dismayed by the thefts.

“The question you would have to ask yourself is why would someone steal one of these cameras,” she said. “It’s these cameras that are going to be saving your life. It’s these cameras that are going to prevent fatalities. I hope they find the person who did this.”

A radar camera located near Fisherville Senior Public School in North York was spray-painted and vandalized.

One thought on “Photo radar gets mixed reviews from local residents, drivers

  • Otto Richter

    Photo radar is in principle a good idea. I don’t hold with paranoid people sayings it’s Big Brother any more than I think police watching traffic to give out tickets to speeders is Big Brother at work. But it is limited. It works to reduce speeding traffic only on the streets where the cameras are installed. I applaud their use but only as part of a larger effort to reduce traffic speeds across the board.

    And, dare I say it, as part of a larger initiative to reduce vehicular traffic altogether! We need to wean our civilization off cars before they kill us all off through both traffic accidents and pollution.

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