|Herald photo by Ian Martens
Three new red-light camera locations are set to be in force early in the new year, including the intersection of 43 Street and Highway 3 and two additional intersections along Mayor Magrath Drive South.
Police are stepping up traffic enforcement at one of Lethbridge's most dangerous intersections.
Speeding and red-light violation camera surveillance will be provided at 43 Street and Highway 3, along with two busy corners on Mayor Magrath Drive South. Installed cost is about $250,000, officials say, and they'll begin operation early in the new year.
The cameras will be located at three of the city's highest collision corners, says Insp. Bill Kaye. Head of the community policing division for the Lethbridge Regional Police Service, Kaye says the eastside Highway 3 entrance to the city has been the site of many serious collisions.
Drivers fail to slow to posted speeds there, he points out. And many proceed through red or "stale" amber lights.
"When there's a collision there, things can be really bad."
The automated speed and red-light equipment is also being placed at Mayor Magrath Drive and 10 Avenue as well as 32 Avenue South. They'll add to a camera location activated nearly three years ago at Mayor Magrath and 5 Avenue S.
That corner was one of the first three in Lethbridge, along with 3 Avenue and 13 Street South, and University Drive at Garry Drive West.
Since their installation, Kaye says, the cameras have triggered nearly 21,000 speeding tickets and 390 red-light violations at those three corners. The city bought just one camera, he says, and it's rotated among the three spots.
Ongoing enforcement has resulted in a 30 per cent reduction in collisions at those three locations, Kaye reports.
A second camera will be part of the new purchase, he says, and police will also rotate it through the six locations. Drivers who see a floodlight flash may not know if they'll get an offence notice in the mail, because the flash can be set to trigger continually - not just when there's a camera in operation.
When a camera records a red-light violation, Kaye says, the vehicle's registered owner is fined $287, regardless of who's behind the wheel. When it captures a speeder, the sliding-scale penalty runs from $57 to $89 for those travelling one to 15 km/h over the limit, but from $187 to $351 for those 31 to 50 km/h over.
Over 50, Kaye adds, and the owner will be ordered to appear in court. No demerit points are levied, however, because the camera isn't able to positively identify the driver.
During the new sites' first month of operation, he says, courtesy letters will be sent to registered owners instead of tickets, reminding them of the traffic law - and the added enforcement.
Enforcement cameras aren't effective at all high-incident intersections, Kaye adds. At highly congested corners like Mayor Magrath and Scenic Drive South, he says, rear-end collisions are one of the biggest issues. Today's camera systems aren't much help in reducing those mishaps.