Seven Surrey intersections and one in North Delta will be getting new technology that could lead to an automatic ticket for drivers speeding through red, yellow or green light.
In total, 35 intersection cameras in the province have been “tweaked to slow the worst leadfoots,” according to a news release from the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General Tuesday (May 7).
Starting this summer, the province will install new warning signs and activate technology that would ticket the registered owner of the vehicle “entering these intersections well over the posted limit on a red, yellow or green light.”
Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General, said that to “discourage high speeds” at the locations, government and police won’t disclose the speed threshold that will trigger the new cameras. The ministry says this is “consistent with every other Canadian jurisdiction using automated speed enforcement,” but added that depending on continued monitoring of the ISC program and evaluation of road safety outcomes, “this threshold may change in the future.”
Criminal defence lawyer, Sarah Leamon, said she’s not surprised to hear about the switch to automated ticketing, but it “isn’t necessarily a good thing when it comes to the justice system and people’s fundamental rights.”
Leamon said she has concerns about automated fines “on the basis of technology, solely, and not having any human element or any element of discretion in terms of doling out those penalties.”
Leamon, like others, is wondering what the speed thresholds will be.
“I think that’s a very obvious question that lots of people are going to have because, typically, police officers who are issuing speeding tickets get to exercise some degree of discretion. We get ticketed for driving too fast, you can also be ticketed for driving too slow,” she said.
“It’s not unusual for drivers to be driving somewhere around 60 km/h, and I think it would be unusual for a driver to receive a ticket from a police officer if that’s what they were doing.”
Because of the government’s refusal to disclose the threshold, Leamon said she thinks it will be “inevitable” that someone will challenge a ticket in court.
“Under the Motor Vehicle Act, there’s different levels of speeding. You can be speeding one kilometre over the speed limit and upwards and the fines increase based on how quickly you are going or to what degree you were exceeding the speed limit. You can also go all the way up to excessive speeding, so that’s a much more severe penalty that can be issued under the Motor Vehicle Act that also results in the person’s vehicle being impounded and other penalties through ICBC down the road.”
In order to challenge a ticket, Leamon said, the tickets would have to include how fast the driver was alleged to be speeding, what technology was used to measure the speeding and access to calibration and maintenance records for the cameras.
“With a red light, the allegation is just that you went through the light when you weren’t supposed to, but speeding is a little bit more nuanced than that,” she said.
“People wouldn’t be able to adequately dispute it, right? If you want to dispute that ticket, you need to have that information in order to dispute it properly and that is one of our protected charter rights — is the opportunity to make full answer in defense and to know the full basis of the allegations against a person.”
Between 2012 and 2016, according to the ministry, the ISC sites “reported an average of 10,500 vehicles a year going at least 30 kilometres per hour over the posted speed limit, as detected by red-light cameras.”
“We’ve taken time to systematically pinpoint the locations linked to crashes and dangerous speeds that are best suited to safely catching, ticketing and changing the behaviours of those who cause carnage on B.C. roads, said Farnworth.
The eight Surrey/North Delta intersections are:
• 128th Street at 88th Avenue
• 152nd Street at 96th Avenue
• 152nd Street at King George Boulevard
• 64th Avenue at 152nd Street
• 96th Avenue at 132nd Street
• King George Boulevard at 104th Avenue
• King George Boulevard at 80th Avenue
• Nordel Way at 84th Avenue